NEW YORK — It was a day to remember for Jeff (The Silencer) Smith at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The 47-year-old from Hampton, N.B., edged Hamilton's Matt (The Ginja Ninja)Campbell on Saturday afternoon to win the bet365 North American Championship darts title for the second time. Smith then won his way into the evening final of the bet365 U.S. Darts Masters, only to lose 8-0 to world No. 3 Michael van Gerwen.
The Dutch star claimed the 20,000-pound (US$24,900) top prize in securing a record-extending 18th World Series of Darts title. Van Gerwen also won the event in 2017.
Smith opened play in the North American Championship earlier in the day by defeating Canadian veteran Jim (The Gentleman) Long, rallying from a 5-3 deficit to win 6-5. Smith then downed American No. 1 Jules van Dongen 6-1 and Hamilton's Campbell to claim the US$10,000 first prize.
With the match tied at five legs apiece, Campbell had a chance to win with a 114 checkout. But after a 20, he missed a triple-18. Smith then hit the double-eight he needed for the victory.
Smith also won the event, which features eight North American competitors, in 2018.
"It feels good," said Smith. "Winning in Las Vegas was special, but to win in New York — this is unreal. I think this is the venue for North American darts. We had a ton of support here, it's unbelievable."
Smith and Campbell will play as partners later this month in the My Diesel Claim World Cup of Darts in Frankfurt, Germany.
Smith kept winning in the U.S. Darts Masters, beating England's Nathan Aspinall, the 2019 champion, 6-2 in the quarterfinal Saturday evening and then England's Luke Humphries 7-6 on a 167 finish to reach the final.
Long lost his quarterfinal 6-2 to van Gerwen.
The 55-year-old from London, Ont., was the talk of the darts world Friday after defeating world champion Michael (Bully Boy) Smith. Long won the first-round matchup 6-2, surviving five 180s from the top-seeded world No. 1 from England to advance to the quarterfinals after landing three 180s and converted 97 and 115 checkouts.
“I’m still taking it in. Michael is the cream of the crop. I’m ecstatic,” said Long, a former World Cup of Darts quarter-finalist. "This is the biggest win of my career by far. I was so nervous. I had so many friends here tonight so it’s a very special moment for me.
“It’s an honour to play these guys. As North American dart players, it’s a real blessing to have the opportunity to play the best players in the world.”
Jeff Smith also recorded an upset, ousting third-seeded Peter (Snakebite) Wright of Scotland 6-2.
Wright is ranked second in the world by the PDC compared to No. 68 for Jeff Smith.
Van Gerwen defeated Canadian Jake Macmillan 6-2 in other first-round action. Aspinall needed to stave off a rally by Campbell to defeat the Canadian No. 1.
Campbell fought back from 4-2 down to level the match at 4-4, only to see Aspinall win legs in 11 and 14 darts to win 6-4.
The field at the two-day event features 16 players contesting 60,000 pounds (US$74,710) in prize money and the third World Series title of 2023.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2023.
The Canadian Press