Luke Littler makes history and claims first PDC title in Bahrain Masters win over Michael van Gerwen

 (PA)
(PA)
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Teenage sensation Luke ‘The Nuke’ Littler continues to set the darts world ablaze by claiming his first ever PDC title in a thrilling final against Michael van Gerwen at the Bahrain Masters.

Littler, playing in his first tournament since his run to the final of the PDC World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace earlier this month, had to overcome two knockout matches against Nathan Aspinall and Gerywn Price before reaching the showpiece against Van Gerwen.

The 16-year-old took a 5-3 lead against the three-time world champion and must have felt the nerves when the Dutchman clawed the match back to 5-5.

From there though Littler surged to victory, breaking Van Gerwen’s throw by taking out double 10 before holding his own to claim the title with a double top finish after he had initially left himself a 170 checkout.

The teenager, who turns 17 in two days time, had already made history earlier in the day after landing a nine-darter against Nathan Aspinall in his quarter-final match.

He became the youngest player to achieve the feat in the World Series, scoring the perfect leg during his 6-3 victory over the fourth seed. The only other player to throw a nine-darter in the World Series, which started in 2013, is Phil Taylor.

Littler’s nine-dart leg was the very first of the match and saw him landed triple 20s with his first seven darts followed by treble 19 and a double 12. His opponent, Aspinall, joined in the congratulations as the crowd erupted.

Littler went on to take the second leg against the darts to lead 2-0 lead, only for Aspinall to break back in the third and hold throw to make it 2-2. The teenager gained momentum though and claimed four of the next five legs before tidying up with a 116 checkout to set up a semi-final encounter with Gerywn Price.

Price ended a 20-game winning run for newly crowned world champion Luke Humphries by defeating him 6-4 in their quarter-final but he was no match for the confident Littler.

The teenager picked up where he left off, landing a maximum 170 finish on his way to a 7-3 semi-final win over the Welshman, who himself hit 124 and 146 checkouts.

Littler then powered his way past Van Gerwen to clinch his first PDC title.

“I’m happy to win, I played well yesterday and I’ve played well again tonight,” he told ITV4 following his victory, “No one probably believes me but I’ve not threw a dart since the world final.

“Michael [Van Gerwen] is one of the very best and I’m happy to win on my debut. It’s been unbelievable this week and I’m happy to come out as the winner.”

Van Gerwen was full of compliments for the youngster following his defeat adding: “It’s never going to be a good week when I’m not winning but Luke had a fantastic performance. Everyone knows what he is capable of - let him grow, let him do his thing.

“I couldn’t produce what I produced in the earlier games and you get punished and that’s the way sport works. Of course I’m disappointed but you win some, you lose some.

“I’ll get him, don’t worry!”