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Bungay's Andrew Gilding beats Michael van Gerwen 11-10 in the final to win his first major darts title at the Cazoo UK Open





Suffolk has a new major darts champion after Andrew Gilding won the Cazoo UK Open in a thrilling finale at Butlin's Minehead Resort last night.

The 52-year-old, who lives in Bungay, near Harleston, was appearing in his first televised final and went up against the pre-tournament favourite and world number three Michael van Gerwen.

And the man nicknamed 'Goldfinger' came out on top in a last-leg decider, winning 11-10 to scoop the £110,000 top prize, live in front of the ITV cameras, and has moved up to number 25 in the world rankings.

Suffolk's Andrew Gilding is a major darts champion after winning the Cazoo UK Open last night Picture: Kieran Cleeves/PDC
Suffolk's Andrew Gilding is a major darts champion after winning the Cazoo UK Open last night Picture: Kieran Cleeves/PDC

“I can’t believe it,” admitted Gilding, who had lost all six of his previous meetings against van Gerwen, including in the semi-finals of the 2015 UK Open.

“I didn’t expect to win that game. I played steady all weekend, but I didn’t feel like I played particularly brilliant darts.

“The crowd were absolutely amazing. I have been practising more, working hard and it’s paying off. Now I’ve got to win all of these major titles!”

Gilding has previously represented Suffolk at county level, and also played for Walsham-le-Willows Sports Club and Stowmarket-based Cedars Park in the Suffolk Super League.

He won back his tour card onto the professional darts circuit, on the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), at the start of 2021 and has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last 12 months.

In 2022, Gilding reached three ranking finals, including a first on the European Tour, in the Belgian Darts Open, and finished the season with his first appearance back in the Cazoo World Darts Championship for six years.

'Goldfinger' came through a field of 158 players at the weekend to win not only his first major title, but a maiden tournament victory of any kind in the professional ranks, having lost in five previous finals on tour.

Andrew Gilding with his trademark thumbs up after hitting a 180 Picture: Kieran Cleeves/PDC
Andrew Gilding with his trademark thumbs up after hitting a 180 Picture: Kieran Cleeves/PDC

He started in the UK Open, a tournament affectionately known as 'The FA Cup of Darts' on Friday as a 200/1 outsider to lift the title.

Gilding's run saw him beat Darren Webster (6-2), Ricky Evans (10-5), Luke Woodhouse (10-5) and Brendan Dolan (10-8) to progress through to the final day on Sunday.

A 10-4 victory against Germany's Martin Schindler took the Suffolk thrower into his second major semi-final, where he got past the Czech Republic's Adam Gawlas 11-6 to reach his maiden final on TV.

In front of a capacity crowd of 5,000 fans, van Gerwen went into the final as a heavy 1/12 favourite and started strongly, checking out 135 on the bull to take an early 2-0 lead.

Andrew Gilding celebrates after winning the Cazoo UK Open last night Picture: Kieran Cleeves/PDC
Andrew Gilding celebrates after winning the Cazoo UK Open last night Picture: Kieran Cleeves/PDC

But Gilding hit back and won four consecutive legs to edge in front, only for his Dutch opponent to return the favour with a similar run to open up a 6-4 advantage at the second interval.

From 9-7 behind, 'Goldfinger' claimed back-to-back legs to level up the final at 9-9, before the three-time world champion responded with a 170 finish to move a leg away from glory.

However, Gilding was unperturbed, pinning double 12 to force a last-leg decider, where he conjured up a brilliant 13-dart leg on tops to seal a famous victory, after van Gerwen had missed double 16 for a match-winning 102 checkout for the title.

Andrew Gilding lifts the trophy after beating Michael van Gerwen in Sunday's final Picture: Kieran Cleeves/PDC
Andrew Gilding lifts the trophy after beating Michael van Gerwen in Sunday's final Picture: Kieran Cleeves/PDC

“To play games like this are always difficult. Andrew had nothing to lose and I think he played really well,” conceded van Gerwen, who was forced to settle for the £50,000 runner-up prize.

“I think I made many mistakes and I know that, but I’m the only one to blame and fair play to Andrew.

“At this moment I can’t find many positives. I’m here to win tournaments and when you don’t do that it’s disappointing.

“It is painful for me. It hurts. Everybody knows what I’m like, but I will take it on the chin. Credit to Andrew. He had a phenomenal tournament.”