Whitlock display simply stunning

There’s an old saying “beware the injured golfer.” Well now perhaps “beware the injured darts player” is equally appropriate.

Simon Whitlock came into the PDC World Championship with his participation in doubt after he suffered a broken ankle less than two months ago.

But the big Aussie produced undoubtedly the performance of the first round by achieving an average of 105 in thrashing Dennis Smith.

How the injury had occurred is unconfirmed. What we do know is that it happened during a PTC double-header weekend in Benidorm at the end of October.

Now Whitlock will not have been the first person to require medical treatment during a visit to the Spanish equivalent of Blackpool, that’s for sure.

It could, however, have been one of the costlier mishaps if he had been forced to pull out of the Alexandra Palace event after missing the Grand Slam of Darts which began just a couple of weeks after the incident.

The official line is that the man known as the ‘Beard To Be Feared’ had slipped in the shower. Rumours suggest it was more to do with some larking around during a night out. Whatever the cause, though, it did not stop the former BDO World Championship runner-up from producing darts of the highest quality on his return to competitive action.

Still doing a passable impersonation of Hopalong Cassidy, and having hardly been able to practice, Whitlock still finds it troublesome to put weight on his injured leg for too long and has had to change his footwear.

Maybe the effects will catch up with him sooner rather than later. But they did not against Smith, for whom there was plenty of money, and on their respective first-round performances you have to think Whitlock should account for Steve Beaton when they meet in the last 32 on December 28.

Another player to impress in beating an opponent called Smith was Scott ‘Cool Hand’ Rand, who did not drop a leg in polishing off ‘The Pie Man’.

Rand is one of many players climbing the rankings and is doing so faster than most. It would be no surprise to see him in the top 32 before long and he has been slashed to 66/1 for this title.

John Part has enjoyed a better year and looked in decent shape when seeing off John Henderson, while Devon Petersen produced another good show by a South African player in staging a fine comeback to oust Steve Brown.

Peterson impressed here last year and went on to gain a PDC tour card at the qualifying school, so clearly has plenty of talent.

He will have his work cut out against Gary Anderson in round two, but the Scot often struggles against lower-ranked rivals and Peterson could give him a good game.

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