HOME hopes in the Dutch Darts Masters were ended on Saturday as the remaining five local stars in the European Tour event – including Michael van Gerwen, Raymond van Barneveld and Co Stompe – were knocked out.
All five Dutch aces who were in the second round of the £82,100 event suffered the disappointment of defeat in a high-quality day of second round action at Nuland’s Van Der Valk Hotel.
Van Gerwen, the recent PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix champion, hit four 180s in his clash with Paul Nicholson but went down to a 6-4 loss as the Australian World Cup star progressed to the last 16.
Nicholson now meets German teenager Max Hopp in the third round on Sunday, but praised van Gerwen following the game after the 23-year-old’s six ranking victories this year elevated him to the world’s highest-ranked Dutchman.
“I’m delighted to have won because this is the first time in the five European Tour events this year that I’ve made it to the Sunday,” said Nicholson. “I held my throw well and that was important in the end to defeat Michael.
“I came into the game with no pressure because Michael’s in such great form and I relaxed and enjoyed the match.
“Michael’s inspiring people to play better at the moment – including me – and he’s also taking Dutch darts forward, and he’s a great example for all young players coming into the game.
“It will be the other way around tomorrow when I play Max because all the pressure is on me, but Max is what German darts has been looking for now for a number of years, a future superstar, and I’m excited to be playing him.”
Hopp, a 16-year-old from the Frankfurt area, progressed to play Nicholson in style as he followed up Friday’s defeat of Terry Jenkins with a superb 6-4 win over Steve Beaton, hitting five 180s and sealing the victory with a 121 checkout.
“I’m very happy,” said the teenager, who could win a World Championship place if he reaches Sunday’s quarter-finals. “I stayed relaxed today and that showed in my game. The Dutch crowd were great to me and I can’t wait to play on Sunday.”
Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld was another player to suffer an upset as he was defeated by Swindon’s Johnny Haines, who impressed with a 13-darter to win the deciding leg of their tight contest and admitted afterwards that he was ‘overwhelmed’ to defeat the Dutch legend.
Vincent van der Voort also went down 6-5 as former World Youth Champion Arron Monk hit a 13-dart finish in the deciding leg of their contest.
Stompe, meanwhile, saw a rousing comeback halted by world number one Phil Taylor as the 15-time World Champion prevailed 6-3 in their second round game.
Taylor hit back-to-back 11-darters to kick the game off, only for Stompe to take out 170 as he levelled before finishing 95 to lead, to the delight of a capacity Dutch crowd.
However, Taylor hit back to win the next four without reply in remaining on course to win his second European Tour event of the year, but admitted: “I was worried for a minute there!
“Co came back really well and hit some good finishes, especially the 170, and that’s what he does, but I’m delighted that I came good in the end.”
Emerging talent Gino Vos was the other Dutch loser on the day, going down 6-1 to resurgent Jamie Caven, meaning that Sunday’s final stages will take place without a home star.
Australian ace Simon Whitlock, the number two seed, progressed to the third round with a classy 6-2 win over Alan Tabern and now plays Ian White, the German Darts Masters runner-up last month who overcame Mervyn King 6-4 on Saturday.
Andy Smith’s reward for a whitewash win over Scott Rand is a clash with Taylor, while Caven and Haines will battle for a quarter-final spot.
Andy Jenkins and Wayne Jones will clash in the third round following their wins over James Hubbard and Kevin Painter respectively.
Mark Walsh completed a 6-3 win over Brendan Dolan with a 111 checkout in the final leg, and now takes on Bristol’s Steve Brown, who hit four 180s in an impressive 6-2 win over world number five Wes Newton.
Andy Hamilton took out a 167 finish in his 6-4 win over Belgian qualifier Davyd Venken to set up a clash with Monk, while Kim Huybrechts and Colin Osborne were the day’s other winners.
Belgian ace Huybrechts saw off Mark Jones 6-2, while Osborne’s return to form continued as he enjoyed a 6-4 win over Ronnie Baxter.
The third round will be held in Sunday’s afternoon session before the tournament concludes with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in the evening session, when the destiny of the £15,000 first prize will be decided.