Whitby darts ace Richie Parkin said “everything clicked” for him as he won his first ranking event for six years on Saturday.
The 29-year-old came within a whisker of a nine-dart checkout and hammered the treble 20 on his way to winning the Thornaby Open.
It was his first Teesside ranking event win since claiming the Loftus Open title in 2009.
Richie got off to a flier when he defeated Cleveland youth player Sean Jowers 4-0, “never missing a double” before seeing off Jordan Mathews – a “future world champion” in Richie’s opinion, in a 4-3 thriller.
“It totally went to the wire the last dart was a double eight and it just sneaked in,” he said.
Richie’s worst game came in the third round but did not prevent him from seeing off Brian Barnett 4-1 and then he defeated county player Chris Swales in the last eight by the same scoreline.
At this point, Richie was “hitting 180s for fun” and came close to a nine-dart checkout – the minimum possible – with seven consecutive treble 20s.
If he’d hit the treble 19 in that leg he would have been only one dart away from the ultimate checkout, something that is still considered a momentous achievement among senior darts pros, let alone amateurs.
Richie carried his impressive form into the semi-finals against his friend Karl Coleman and reached the final in style, with a three-dart average of more than 110 in the last leg, on his way to a 4-2 triumph.
The only person standing in the way of Richie and a £200 cash prize was Karl’s father Dennis “the Doctor” Coleman, but the omens were good.
“I hit 180 on the practice board and knew then I was going to win,” said Richie.
“Everything felt right and I never looked like missing.”
Richie’s 4-2 win capped a memorable day at the oche and he hopes it will be enough now for him to contest the Teesside ranking finals night in early December, with £1,000 on the table.
Next up for Richie on October 25 is another Teesside event, the Lazenby Open, in which he has excelled in recent years, reaching the semi-final on the last four occasions.
Richie will then be crossing the Irish Sea to compete in the Northern Ireland Open in Newry, from November 7-9.
Richie is delighted with his return to form, having struggled at the recent British Open in Bridlington when he “couldn’t let go of the dart” but said about Saturday: “Everything was clicking again.”