Brendan Dolan Dolan booked his place in the 2022 Betfred World Matchplay in style by winning Players Championship 21 on Monday, defeating Jonny Clayton 8-5 in the final.
Heading into the final tournament before the World Matchplay qualification cut-off, Dolan’s place among the 16 ProTour Qualifiers was not guaranteed.
But the Northern Irishman blew any concerns of not making it to Blackpool out of the water as he went unbeaten in Barnsley to pick up his first title of the year and a ninth of his career.
Having not won a game in Players Championships 18-20 from Friday to Sunday, Dolan re-found the winning habit to maintain his record of reaching at least one ranking final each year since 2019.
“Everyone was telling me I was a ‘dead cert’ to qualify [for the World Matchplay] but I knew that I wasn’t mathematically in,” Dolan admitted.
“So that was on my mind, maybe I was thinking too much about qualifying for that and the World Grand Prix which was why I couldn’t win a game the last three days.
“I’ve had a really bad year, to be fair. I’ve possibly put myself under too much pressure and not even been able to qualify for European Tours.
“Today I just wanted to win one game. I never felt like I was playing well enough to win it, I got lucky today at times.
“There were moments of good darts but there wasn’t enough consistency so I’m not going to get too excited about this win. But, in the context of my year, this is massive.”
Dolan’s day began with a 6-0 whitewash of Nick Fullwell before coming through three last-leg deciders against Ian White, Joe Murnan and Danny Noppert.
Victories over Keegan Brown and Danny Noppert in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively took the 48-year-old to the final where he denied Clayton a first title of the year.
With the final level at 3-3, Dolan reeled off the next three legs to take a commanding 6-3 lead.
Clayton replied with a 138 checkout to break throw which he backed up with an 81 finish to hold and move within a leg at 5-6.
But Dolan resisted the Welshman’s fightback with a 13-dart hold and then sealing the £12,000 prize with a 102 checkout.
Chris Dobey, Madars Razma and Rowby-John Rodriguez also made sure of qualification for the World Matchplay at Players Championship 21, with Razma and Rodriguez set to make their Winter Gardens debuts at the event.
The ProTour returns with Players Championships 22-24 from August 3-5 at the Barnsley Metrodome.
2022 Players Championship 21
Monday July 11, Barnsley Metrodome
Keegan Brown 6-1 Cameron Menzies
Brendan Dolan 6-5 Danny Noppert
Damon Heta 6-3 Krzysztof Ratajski
Mensur Suljovic 6-1 Nathan Rafferty
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Michael Smith
Peter Wright 6-2 Niels Zonneveld
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Vincent van der Voort
Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Mickey Mansell
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Keegan Brown
Damon Heta 6-2 Mensur Suljovic
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Peter Wright
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Nathan Aspinall
Brendan Dolan 7-4 Damon Heta
Jonny Clayton 7-4 Dave Chisnall
Brendan Dolan 8-5 Jonny Clayton