Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld made a fairytale return to the PDC Pro Tour with his first ranking title since 2013 as he defeated Joe Cullen 8-6 in the final of Players Championship Three.
The Dutchman won four of the final five legs against an in-form Cullen, and despite missing four match darts, Barney come back to take out the remaining 12 to ensure a dream return to professional darts.
Barney, who regained his Tour Card at the European Q School in January, came out on top of the 128-player event on the third day of the PDC Super Series at the Bolton Whites Hotel.
Barney marks comeback with PDC ranking title
After coming through the first round against Krzysztof Kciuk, van Barneveld held his nerve to come through last-leg deciders against both former world champion Rob Cross and Mervyn King.
Barney then averaged over 100 across the next three victories, against Darius Labanauskas, Alan Soutar and Ian White to set up the final against Cullen, who was aiming to win two of the first three Players Championships after his success on Thursday.
Cullen took out a 13-dart leg to quickly move into two-leg lead at the start of the game, which saw the Welshman hit a 174 set-up before coming back to land double 20.
The Rockstar was punished after missed darts at the double as Barney broke in the eighth to level the finish at 4-4. RVB's first break of throw come in the eighth leg, when the Dutchman punished Cullen’s missed darts at the double to make it 4-4.
A terrific 119 checkout appeared to swing the momentum back in Cullen’s favour, but Barney broke straight back and fired in a spectacular 144 finish.
Van Barneveld won two of the next three legs to go within one of the title, and after missing four match darts, the Dutchman got over the line after a thrilling final against Cullen.
Labanauskas knocks out Van Gerwen in Round One
Elsewhere on the third day of the PDC Super Series, world champion Gerwyn Price dropped out of the tournament before a dart was thrown – the Welshman revealed he had to return home due to an ear infection.
There were early shocks on the cards again as former world number one Michael van Gerwen crashed out of Round One after a 6-3 defeat to Lithuanian Labanauskas, who made a run to the last 32 before losing to van Barneveld.
Eddie Lovely, who won his first PDC Tour Card at Q School in January, caused one of the upsets of the day after beating world number nine Michael Smith.
Nathan Aspinall had reached the semi-finals of the first two Players Championships this week, but was knocked out in the first round against Scotsman Soutar, while Simon Whitlock was also sent crashing out.
Fellow Aussie Gordon Mathers, who is competing in his first ever season on the ProTour, made a run to the last 32 after beating Geert De Vos and Dave Chisnall, before eventually losing out against Daryl Gurney.
Irish youngster Keane Barry made it through to the last 16 on Thursday and went on a run to the last 32 in Players Championship Three, which included a 6-1 hammering of Mensur Suljović.