GARY Anderson admits his return to competitive darts following the death of his father was a struggle and needs to get his “head sorted” in order to rediscover his best form.
The reigning champion from Eyemouth has fallen to sixth in the McCoy’s Premier League Darts table after going down 8-2 to Australia’s Simon Whitlock in Nottingham last night.
Whitlock had been whitewashed by James Wade in Cardiff a week earlier, but bounced back in style with the victory, as he hit a ten-dart leg to deny Anderson a victory on his return after missing week eight of the Premier League to attend his father’s funeral in Scotland. Anderson’s dad, Gordon, passed away at the age of 74 three weeks ago after losing his fight against stomach cancer.
“It was a struggle,” Anderson admitted. “I’ve not really had chance to play for two or three weeks and it was going okay on the practice board, but it was terrible up on stage.
“It will come good again and now I can get my head sorted and get back to practising. Two or three wins will put me back up the table and I’ve still got a game in hand.”
Whitlock endured his worst night since making his Premier League Darts debut in 2010 when he lost 8-0 to James Wade in Cardiff a week ago.
However, he responded superbly with a 101 average to defeat Anderson, who returned from missing last week’s event to attend his father’s funeral in Scotland but was unable to find the form which took him to the title last May.
He did have some moments of brilliance, notably an effortless 143 to win the second leg, but misses at double top at crucial moments proved costly as Whitlock took command.
The Australian had opened the game with a 13-darter and, after Anderson’s fine effort to level, he took five successive legs to move 6-1 up, hitting two 180s and a 14-darter in the process.
Anderson finished double ten to win his second leg of the match, but even a 180 was not enough in leg nine as Whitlock produced a sensational ten-dart finish - scoring 180, 140 and 149 to set up double 16.
The pair also traded 180s in leg ten, but Anderson was unable to land tops and Whitlock took out 74 to secure the points in style.
“It was very important to bounce back well,” said Whitlock. “To get an 8-0 flogging wasn’t real good, but I showed a lot of character.
“I went out there with a positive mind and put last week to bed by playing my best tonight. You have to throw a 100 average to win nowadays, and if you do that you’re going to win a lot of games.
“I’m back up to second but I’ll be happy to be in the top four - the McCoy’s Premier League is going to be a very tight finish but I’m in a good position.”
McCoy’s Premier League Darts
Kevin Painter 6-8 Raymond van Barneveld
Adrian Lewis 8-5 James Wade
Andy Hamilton 6-8 Phil Taylor
Simon Whitlock 8-2 Gary Anderson