Swadlincote’s Harry Ward picked up his maiden PDC senior title in Barnsley on Sunday afternoon as the 21-year old picked up PDC Players Championship 16, and trousering the £10,000 top prize.
For the 21-year old, who only secured his two-year PDC Tour Card in January after coming through Qualifying School, it’s his very first PDC title. Ward has been competing on the Development Tour and the Challenge Tour, but this is most definitely the finest moment of his young career.
After realising his dream, Ward spoke with PDC’s Dan Dawson just seconds after defeating Max Hopp in the final, who hadn’t lost a competitive PDC final since 2014 before this afternoon.
“Max is a great lad, when I missed those three darts at double 16 to win it, I thought I’d blown it. I was doubting myself a little bit, but I just thought, Kick on in the last leg, and I’m so pleased, mate.
“I rode my luck today, Michael Smith missed three darts to beat me, then I managed to take out 145 in the decider, I’ve rode my luck, but you need a bit of luck sometimes, and I played well.
When asked about his narrow win over Nathan Aspinall in his third Pro-Tour Quarter-Final of 2019, Ward was ‘relieved’ to get over the line.
“I was panicking a little bit, there was a lot at stake. That was my third Quarter-Final this year, and I thought, ‘Third time lucky, let’s ave’ it’. Nathan struggled a bit, and I was glad to get over the line. And, when I won that, I just thought I’m in the last four, so why not?
Ward also revealed that prior to PDC Qualifying School in January, that he almost walked away from the sport.
“In October/November, I didn’t want to play darts, honestly. I had a break over Christmas, and I picked my darts up about a week before Q-School. And, I just thought, just give it a go and relax into it, and that went really well. I’ve just gone on from there, I’ve been practising every day since after work, because I still work full-time, and it’s really paid off.
“It’s unbelievable, I’m back to work tomorrow, back to the Bricklaying with my Dad, I’m back on site tomorrow and they’ll all be asking how I’ve done. They won’t believe me!
En route to the title, Ward enjoyed a string of noteworthy successes over some of the best names that the PDC has to offer. Ward kicked off the day with victories over Vincent Kamphuis (6-3) and Madars Razma (6-2). The Derbyshire ace needed to produce the goods in a last-leg showdown with James Richardson as ‘Big H’ secured a 6-5 win to move into the last 16.
Ward had to come through a trio of last-leg deciders to claim the title, in the last 16, Ward survived three match darts from Michael Smith as ‘Big H’ piled in a sensational 145 checkout to emerge victorious and book his place in the Quarter-Finals.
In the last eight, Ward faced UK Open winner Nathan Aspinall, and yet again, it went the distance. Aspinall really piled the pressure on in the latter end of the match, but Ward really produced the goods in the decider as he eventually pinned D4 to end the contest after missing a stack of match darts previously.
As the Semi-Finals loomed, Ward came up against Jose De Sousa, in what was a ‘massive’ game for both players. Ward could’ve easily come unstuck, but the 21-year old remained nerveless as he ran out at 7-4 winner to move into his first PDC final.
In the final, Ward faced Germany’s Max Hopp, who hadn’t lost a PDC final of any sort since 2014 as he remained in search of his third PDC title. It was a highly contested final, and Ward thought that he’s blown his chance as he missed three clear darts at D16 to take the final 8-6. Hopp pinned D10 to force a last-leg decider, and both players really threw the kitchen sink at one another in terms of scoring as Ward was faced with a shot at a 68 checkout with Hopp waiting to poise on D18. Ward held his nerve as he pinned D16 to take the title and the £10,000 first prize.