Blackpool man takes the £6,000 title
Ronnie Baxter picked up his first Players Championship victory for almost 12 months in Barnsley with a 6-5 defeat of Denis Ovens, sealing the win with an 11-dart finish.
Baxter had not reached a final since winning the Las Vegas Players Championship at the end of June 2009, but a fine display at the Barnsley Metrodome saw the Blackpool man take the £6,000 title.
He dropped only two legs in wins over Par Riihonen and Michael Smith to kick off Sunday's event, before then going to the deciding leg in wins over Mark Dudbridge and Dennis Priestley as he reached the semi-finals.
Having already seen off one of his recent Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts rivals, Simon Whitlock, he then whitewashed Adrian Lewis in the last four to reach his maiden final of the year, hitting three 180s and a 150 checkout against the Stoke ace.
Ovens started the better in the final, breaking throw in the opening leg and doubling the lead - only for Baxter to hit back with finishes of 143 and 170 in winning three successive legs to lead 3-2.
He also won the next two to move to the brink of victory before Ovens punished missed match darts in two successive legs to pull back to 5-4, hitting a 122 checkout in the ninth.
A 180 from Baxter in the tenth left him a finish, but Ovens coolly checked out 72 in two darts to send the game to a decider.
But Baxter, who had won the pre-match bull to determine the order of throw, produced a sensational leg, hitting a 171 to leave 96 and taking out the finish in two darts for an 11-dart winning leg.
Ovens' run to the final follows his semi-final appearance in the Rileys Darts Zones UK Open last week, and included wins over in-form stars Mark Walsh, Andy Hamilton and Wes Newton, as well as defeats of former World Champions John Part and Anastasia Dobromyslova.
Walsh backed up Saturday's appearance in the final, where he lost to Gary Anderson, by reaching the last four on Sunday before losing 6-3 to Ovens, while Lewis' semi-final was his second in the past month.
Bristol's Steve Brown continued his bid to qualify for next month's StanJames.com World Matchplay by reaching the last eight, while Yorkshire's Dennis Priestley won through to the quarters on home soil before being edged out by Baxter in a decider.
Justin Pipe backed up his first PDC ProTour semi-final on Saturday by reaching the last 16 on Sunday, with Anderson, Joe Cullen, Roland Scholten and Vincent van der Voort also exiting at that stage.