Andrew Gilding has set his sights on lifting further titles after stunning Michael van Gerwen to clinch Cazoo UK Open glory at Butlin’s Minehead Resort on Sunday.
Gilding produced a nerveless display to edge out Van Gerwen in a dramatic last-leg shoot-out, recovering from 8-5 and 9-7 down and surviving a match dart to triumph.
At the age of 52, Gilding became the oldest first-time finalist in a PDC televised event, and he continued his history-making exploits to scoop the £110,000 top prize in Sunday’s showpiece.
Van Gerwen had won the pair’s previous six meetings and appeared poised to land a fourth UK Open crown after establishing a three-leg buffer, taking out 135, 130 and 170 finishes along the way.
However, Gilding fought back brilliantly, winning four of the last five legs and sealing the deal with a 13-darter on tops, after Van Gerwen had missed double 16 for a 102 combination to clinch the title.
“It’s unbelievable. I just can’t believe it,” said Gilding, who averaged 95, landed seven 180s and converted 41% of his attempts at double to celebrate an 11-10 success.
“I have played Michael a few times, so it was about time I beat him!”
Gilding announced his big stage arrival at the UK Open back in 2015, enjoying a terrific run to the semi-finals before succumbing to Van Gerwen in an extraordinary last four tussle.
The 52-year-old averaged 108 in defeat against the imperious Dutchman, but he avenged that result in style on Sunday, to cap off the greatest weekend of his darting life.
Gilding began his campaign in Friday afternoon’s third round, defeating Darren Webster, Ricky Evans, Luke Woodhouse and Brendan Dolan to reach the last eight.
He recovered from 8-5 adrift to dump out Dolan, before sweeping aside German number two Martin Schindler and Czech youngster Adam Gawlas to set up his showdown against Van Gerwen.
“I have no idea what it is about this tournament that brings the best out of me,” revealed the four-time World Championship qualifier.
“I have started to feel more comfortable on the big stage and that comes with experience. I didn’t feel any nerves at all.
“I don’t think you can actually practice for the stage and the big games. You just need to go through it a few times and get used to it.”
Gilding became a regular fixture on the big stage following his UK Open breakthrough eight years ago, but following a difficult spell, he relinquished his PDC Tour Card at the end of the 2018 season.
However, the unassuming Suffolk star regained his place on the professional circuit at Qualifying School in February 2021, and his victory over Van Gerwen caps off a quite remarkable resurgence.
“I lost my Tour Card because I was getting a bit lazy,” admitted Gilding, who is now assured of a place in November’s Grand Slam of Darts.
“I have started to take it more seriously over the last couple of years, I got my Tour Card back and I decided to give it a real good go.
“I’m going to have to win another major now!”