Joe Cullen secures second Players Championship title in Barnsley

Cullen climbs to a career-high 21st on the main Order of Merit (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Joe Cullen claimed his second Players Championship title in the space of three months after a 6-4 victory over Zoran Lerchbacher in the final of event 16 in Barnsley on Sunday.

Having opened his ranking title account at the Barnsley Metrodome in April, Cullen turned on the style again as he denied the Austrian underdog to clinch the £10,000 first prize.

The Bradford ace was given an early scare by Rowby-John Rodriguez in the First Round before coming through a narrow 6-5 winner.

He then overcame Jamie Bain 6-3 and Mike De Decker 6-2, before dispatching Benito van de Pas 6-3 to reach the Quarter-Finals.

There, he held his nerve to edge past Nathan Aspinall in a deciding leg, before brushing aside Daryl Gurney 6-2 to seal his spot in the final.

Cullen began the final in ruthless fashion, opening up a 3-0 lead with checkouts of 102 and 87 along the way, but only for Lerchbacher to stake an unlikely fightback.

The next two legs were shared before Lerchbacher landed double ten to peg back to 4-2 behind and swiftly got back on level terms with the help of a 96 checkout.

Cullen, though, got back on track with a 60 finish before following up a maximum with double ten to get over the line for an emotional triumph.

Cullen had withdrawn midway through last week's European Open in Leverkusen to return to the UK after his father suffered a heart attack and dedicated the win to his father - who is now on the road to recovery.

"He'd be proud of me," admitted Cullen. "Hopefully he's on the mend now, he's back home and obviously things are looking up so I wanted to do it for him.

"I'm just happy to win. I felt comfortable all day but I didn't feel like I was playing well - I just cleaned up the doubles.

"I've never played Zoran before, he's an unexpected finalist and you don't know what to expect so I didn't want to be complacent and I wanted to do the job.

"I think I made it harder than I should have done but I got over the line, so that's the main thing," he added.

Lerchbacher, a non-Tour Card holder, enjoyed a dream run to his first PDC ranking final - which bolsters his hopes of reaching December's World Championship and earning a professional Tour Card for next season.

The two-time World Championship qualifier battled past Tony Newell, Robert Owen, Mark Webster and Robert Thornton to reach the Quarter-Finals, with three of those matches going to a deciding leg.

He then saw off former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown 6-4 and came from behind to edge out Steve Beaton 6-5 in the Semi-Finals.

The conclusion of the event also marked the cut-off for the upcoming World Matchplay, with Justin Pipe ousting Chris Dobey to take the final qualifying spot via the ProTour Order of Merit.

Players Championship 16 Results

Sunday July 9

First Round
Simon Whitlock 1-6 Richard North
Kirk Shepherd 6-2 Brian Woods
James Richardson 6-0 Harry Robinson
Ronnie Baxter 0-6 John Michael
Steve West 4-6 Barrie Bates
Andy Boulton 6-5 Andrew Gilding
Steve Beaton 6-5 Simon Preston
Chris Quantock 5-6 Aden Kirk
Ian White 6-3 Kevin Painter
Mick Todd 6-2 Luke Woodhouse
Ronny Huybrechts 5-6 Joe Murnan
Sven Groen 2-6 Ryan Palmer
Rob Cross 6-1 Yordi Meeuwisse
Jonathan Worsley 4-6 Kevin McDine
Jonny Clayton 6-2 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Richie Corner 2-6 Scott Taylor
Kim Huybrechts 6-2 Josh Payne
Keegan Brown 6-5 Paul Harvey
Robbie Green 6-4 Antonio Alcinas
Jamie Lewis 5-6 Lee Bryant
Cristo Reyes 6-3 Jimmy Hendriks
Steve Lennon 6-1 Andy Jenkins
Christian Kist 6-4 Craig Gilchrist
Ritchie Edhouse 3-6 Simon Stevenson
Alan Norris 5-6 Robert Owen
Zoran Lerchbacher 6-5 Tony Newell
Mark Webster 6-2 Ross Twell
Jamie Caven 6-5 Vincent Kamphuis
Stephen Bunting 6-3 Mick McGowan
Bryan de Hoog 6-4 Stuart Kellett
Robert Thornton 6-3 Ron Meulenkamp
Wayne Jones 5-6 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Michael Smith 4-6 Diogo Portela
Ryan Searle 6-4 Ted Evetts
Jan Dekker 6-3 Adam Hunt
Berry van Peer 2-6 Peter Jacques
James Wilson 6-2 Jim Walker
Martin Schindler 5-6 Nathan Aspinall
Kyle Anderson 3-6 Wes Newton
Jim Brown 3-6 Devon Petersen
Benito van de Pas 6-3 Andy Hamilton
Madars Razma 2-6 Callan Rydz
Dimitri Van den Bergh 5-6 Peter Hudson
Darren Johnson 6-3 Steve Hine
Joe Cullen 6-5 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Jamie Bain 6-3 Mark Walsh
Chris Dobey 1-6 Mike De Decker
Matthew Dennant 0-6 Michael Barnard
Jelle Klaasen 5-6 Richie Burnett
Dennis Smith 5-6 Terry Roach
Vincent van der Voort 6-3 Matt Clark
Mark Barilli 2-6 Brendan Dolan
Mervyn King 2-6 Ricky Evans
Martin Lukeman 3-6 Ryan Meikle
Justin Pipe 6-3 William O’Connor
Stephen Burton 4-6 Jeffrey de Graaf
Daryl Gurney 6-1 Paul Nicholson
Matthew Edgar 6-4 David Pallett
Jermaine Wattimena 6-1 Terry Temple
Max Hopp 6-2 Ray Campbell
Darren Webster 6-1 Maik Langendorf
Mickey Mansell 5-6 Ryan Harrington
John Henderson 6-5 Paul Rowley
Callum Loose 6-4 John Bowles

Second Round
Richard North 4-6 Kirk Shepherd
James Richardson 5-6 John Michael
Barrie Bates 2-6 Andy Boulton
Steve Beaton 6-1 Aden Kirk
Ian White 6-2 Mick Todd
Joe Murnan 4-6 Ryan Palmer
Rob Cross 6-3 Kevin McDine
Jonny Clayton 2-6 Scott Taylor
Kim Huybrechts 1-6 Keegan Brown
Robbie Green 6-4 Lee Bryant
Cristo Reyes 6-3 Steve Lennon
Christian Kist 6-4 Simon Stevenson
Robert Owen 5-6 Zoran Lerchbacher
Mark Webster 6-1 Jamie Caven
Stephen Bunting 6-2 Bryan de Hoog
Robert Thornton 6-5 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Diogo Portela 5-6 Ryan Searle
Jan Dekker 6-5 Peter Jacques
James Wilson 5-6 Nathan Aspinall
Wes Newton 6-2 Devon Petersen
Benito van de Pas 6-1 Callan Rydz
Peter Hudson 0-6 Darren Johnson
Joe Cullen 6-3 Jamie Bain
Mike De Decker 6-5 Michael Barnard
Richie Burnett 4-6 Terry Roach
Vincent van der Voort 4-6 Brendan Dolan
Ricky Evans 1-6 Ryan Meikle
Justin Pipe 5-6 Jeffrey de Graaf
Daryl Gurney 6-2 Matthew Edgar
Jermaine Wattimena 6-5 Max Hopp
Darren Webster 6-4 Ryan Harrington
John Henderson 4-6 Callum Loose
Losers: £500

Third Round
Kirk Shepherd 6-4 John Michael
Andy Boulton 2-6 Steve Beaton
Ian White 6-1 Ryan Palmer
Rob Cross 6-3 Scott Taylor
Keegan Brown 6-5 Robbie Green
Cristo Reyes 4-6 Christian Kist
Zoran Lerchbacher 6-2 Mark Webster
Stephen Bunting 5-6 Robert Thornton
Ryan Searle 3-6 Jan Dekker
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Wes Newton
Benito van de Pas 6-5 Darren Johnson
Joe Cullen 6-2 Mike De Decker
Terry Roach 2-6 Brendan Dolan
Ryan Meikle 6-2 Jeffrey de Graaf
Daryl Gurney 6-1 Jermaine Wattimena
Darren Webster 6-1 Callum Loose
Losers: £1,000

Last 16
Steve Beaton 6-1 Kirk Shepherd
Ian White 6-4 Rob Cross
Keegan Brown 6-3 Christian Kist
Zoran Lerchbacher 6-5 Robert Thornton
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Jan Dekker
Joe Cullen 6-3 Benito van de Pas
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Ryan Meikle
Daryl Gurney 6-4 Darren Webster
Losers: £1,500

Steve Beaton 6-4 Ian White
Zoran Lerchbacher 6-4 Keegan Brown
Joe Cullen 6-5 Nathan Aspinall
Daryl Gurney 6-4 Brendan Dolan
Losers: £2,250

Zoran Lerchbacher 6-5 Steve Beaton
Joe Cullen 6-2 Daryl Gurney
Losers: £3,000

Joe Cullen 6-4 Zoran Lerchbacher
Winner: £10,000
Runner-up: £6,000

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Joe Cullen secures second Players Championship title in Barnsley

Joe Cullen claimed his second Players Championship title in the space of three months after a 6-4 victory over Zoran Lerchbacher in the final of event 16 in Barnsley on Sunday.

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