Haupai Puha will make his Paddy Power World Darts Championship return in December, after winning the 2023 DPA Winmau Oceanic Masters on Sunday.
Puha, who made his Alexandra Palace debut in 2021, came through a 44-player field to triumph in Warilla, defeating reigning champion Mal Cuming 3-1 to secure his spot in the sport’s flagship event.
The New Zealander recovered from 2-0 down to claim the opening set of Sunday’s showpiece, producing a 102 skin-saver in leg four with Cuming poised on a two-dart combination.
Puha then converted 94, 68 and 121 finishes to double his lead in sets, but the Australian hit back in set three, landing 134 and 101 checkouts en route to halving the deficit.
However, Puha moved a leg away from victory with a brilliant 12-dart break midway through set four, before producing a clinical 100 finish to triumph with a 94.72 average.
The 38-year-old had stormed through to the quarter-finals with straight-sets victories against Andrew Eagers and Bailey Marsh, conceding a solitary leg in the process.
He then survived a match dart in his last eight tie against Joe Comito, recovering from a set down with a run of five straight legs, only to fend off a late rally from the Australian in the closing stages.
The former World Cup of Darts quarter-finalist then overcame Jeremy Fagg in the semi-finals, crashing in four 180s and converting a 105 outshot on his way to a 3-1 victory.
Fagg produced the performance of the tournament in his quarter-final win against former PDC Tour Card Holder Gordon Mathers, averaging 101 to complete a straight-sets success.
Top seed Cuming breezed through to the semi-finals without dropping a set, defeating Mick Lacey, Brian Corbett and Stu Irwin in routine fashion to continue the defence of his title.
The Australian also defied a spirited fightback from Hipirini Te Whaakaara in the semi-finals, registering legs of 12, 17 and 17 darts to win a fifth-set decider.
Despite losing out to Puha in Sunday’s finale, Cuming did celebrate victory on the final weekend of the 2023 DPA season, after lifting the Kyle Anderson Memorial Trophy on Friday.
The Melbourne man closed out a 6-4 victory against Rhys Mathewson in the decider, following earlier wins over Scott Johnson, Haunui Hira, Mitchell Clegg, Tic Bridge and Bailey Marsh.
2023 DPA Winmau Oceanic Masters
Sunday October 22
Mal Cuming 2-0 Brian Corbett (3-2, 3-2)
Stu Irwin 2-0 Brenton Lloyd (3-0, 3-2)
Mark Cleaver 2-1 Harley Kemp (3-2, 1-3, 3-1)
Hipirini Te Whaakaara 2-1 Brandon Weening (1-3, 3-2, 3-1)
Haupai Puha 2-0 Bailey Marsh (3-1, 3-0)
Joe Comito 2-0 Haunui Hira (3-1, 3-2)
Jeremy Fagg 2-1 Alan Skayman (3-1, 2-3, 3-1)
Gordon Mathers 2-0 Joshua Walters (3-1, 3-2)
Mal Cuming 2-0 Stu Irwin (3-1, 3-1)
Hipirini Te Whaakaara 2-1 Mark Cleaver (1-3, 3-1, 3-0)
Haupai Puha 2-1 Joe Comito (1-3, 3-0, 3-2)
Jeremy Fagg 2-0 Gordon Mathers (3-2, 3-1)
Mal Cuming 3-2 Hipirini Te Whaakaara (3-2, 3-2, 2-3, 1-3, 3-0)
Haupai Puha 3-1 Jeremy Fagg (3-2, 3-0, 0-3, 3-0)
Haupai Puha 3-1 Mal Cuming (3-2, 3-2, 1-3, 3-1)