Michael Smith was delighted to shed his 'bottler' tag once and for all after finally securing his first major title at the Grand Slam of Darts.
After eight defeats in major finals, including to Ross Smith at last month's European Championship, Bully Boy made it ninth time lucky, cruising to a 16-5 victory over great mate Nathan Aspinall.
While Smith wasn’t at his sparkling best, he was sharp on his doubles and once he started scoring heavily, an out-of-sorts Aspinall couldn't live with him over the second half of the match.
READ MORE: Michael Smith finally wins major darts title with dominant Grand Slam triumph
Smith has been one of the world’s top players over the last four years, reaching eight finals, including two at the World Championship. However, the winners’ trophy kept eluding him, prompting keyboard warriors on social media to brand him a ‘bottler’.
However, Smith silenced his doubters with a victory that, according to many fans and pundits, could open the floodgates to many more titles.
"I’m used to giving the runner-up speech," he joked. "But I’m a cat, I’ve used my ninth life. I’m over the moon.
"Everyone can’t say bottle job, bottle this, bottle that. You can’t take this away from me now.
"I didn’t play well, Nathan let me off, but my doubles went in. Every time I got a shot, I checked it. Then I started to find my scoring but my doubles stayed."
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Smith admitted he struggled with his nerves early on in the final before building momentum and pulling well clear of his rival.
"I was nervous playing him in the first few legs, I was shaking like mad," he said. "I was hitting 11s, 26s [dart legs], then he started missing his doubles and let me in.
"If he’d have got going, it would have been a completely different game. Nathan’s a quality player and hopefully I’ve got 16 weeks with him next year in the Prem [Premier League] and we can have fun."
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