Wes Newton was denied his first major Professional Darts Corporation title in Bolton last night, losing 11-8 to James Wade in the Speedy Hire UK Open final at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium, but the Fleetwood ace gave an excellent account of himself on the biggest night of his career to date.
The Aldershot ace picked up his first major since revealing his battle with bipolar and hyperactivity disorders and in a tight final in which the lead changed hands three times.
Newton took three legs in a row to come from 4-3 down to lead 6-4, but Wade won four of the next five to take command before going on to seal victory with double top. Wade, who won the final three legs of his dramatic semi-final against Mark Webster to win 10-9, started in good fashion winning the opening leg with a two-dart 78 finish and then doubled his lead with a 13-darter.
The world number four had a chance to win the third leg, but his attempt at double top was unsuccessful and Newton stepped in to land double ten and get off the mark.
Newton hit a 180 in the process of taking the fourth leg in just 14 darts, but Wade regained the lead by winning the next on double five.
Wade missed two opportunities to break throw in the sixth as two darts at double top were off-target, and Newton completed a 65 finish by hitting double four with his third dart. Wade hit double ten in the seventh leg to lead again, but wasted four darts at doubles to lead 5-3 and Newton capitalised by hitting double eight to level.
Another miss at double top proved costly for Wade in the ninth leg as Newton hit a clinical 120 checkout to break throw and lead the match for the first time.
The same fate hit Wade again in the next leg as he missed one dart at tops for a 104 finish, and Newton stepped in to hit the same bed and establish a two leg advantage.
The Fleetwood ace missed the chance to claim his fourth successive leg, and Wade took out 74 before hitting a 13-dart finish to square the game at six apiece.
Wade won his third straight leg with the aid of his third maximum of the game to lead 7-6, before Newton held his nerve in the 14th leg to hit an 80 finish with his opponent waiting on double top to leave matters finely balanced.
Newton fired in his fourth 180 of the game in the next leg, but it wasn’t enough to see him reach a double first as Wade hit tops at the first time of asking to lead 8-7.
Wade then stepped up a gear in the next two legs as he put together consecutive 14-dart finishes to move 10-7 ahead and go one leg away from the title.
He had one chance to end the contest in the next, but missed tops for a 101 finish as Newton posted double 16 to stay alive.
Wade, though, hit back with his fifth maximum of the match to forge ahead in the next, and took out double top for a 13-darter to seal the triumph.
Newton’s run to the final consolidated eighth place in the PDC Order of Merit, just two years after he had slumped to 36th.
Newton said: “I’m happy but at the same time I’m gutted. When you get to the final you want to win it, but James was the better player and I congratulate him for that.
“It was a battle of a game without either of us producing our top form. It was new territory for me and I’ll take a lot of positives from it. It’s a great confidence boost for me.
“We went to the break when I was 6-4 up and that break seemed to kill me because he came back and won the next three legs. I went from being in control to behind and James didn’t look back. I know I can play better but I’ve been in my first major final and I’ll hopefully be back for more.”
Newton had won his place in the final with a comeback victory over Denis Ovens in the semis as he overturned a 5-2 deficit by winning eight of the next nine legs to triumph 10-6, hitting a 170 finish in the process.
It was only the third major semi of Newton’s career, following his runs to the last four in the 2005 and 2006 Las Vegas Desert Classics, and he achieved it with a 10-8 defeat of St Helens’ Dave Chisnall in the quarter-finals.
Newton had defeated Raymond van Barneveld 9-1 in Saturday’s last 16 and found a more stubborn opponent in Bolton debutant Chisnall, who battled bravely but saw the Fleetwood ace take out finishes of 118 and 104 on his way to the win.
Missed opportunities at doubles from Chisnall allowed Newton to establish leads of 7-4 and 9-6, but the St Helens man, who had beaten Blackpool-born Ronnie Baxter in the previous round, made his opponent sweat.
Newton had begun his Bolton bid on Friday with a 9-3 win over John Henderson before overcoming Michael van Gerwen by the same score in Saturday’s fourth round.