Michael van Gerwen has stated his intent to retain the BoyleSports World Grand Prix title after avoiding a scare against Jamie Hughes as the double-start tournament began on Sunday night in Dublin.
World Champion Van Gerwen had to come from a set down against debutant Hughes before progressing to the second round of the £450,000 event with a 2-1 triumph.
A dramatic deciding set saw Hughes lead 1-0, only to miss two darts in leg two as Van Gerwen levelled - and a key third leg saw the Tipton thrower open with 160 and 180 before adding a seventh perfect dart.
However, he was unable to close out a perfect leg, and could only watch on after a missed double as Van Gerwen powered home a pivotal 135 checkout on the bull.
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It proved a decisive blow as Van Gerwen moved 2-1 up, and the four-time champion landed a 180 and double 18 to avoid a second first round exit in three years at the Citywest Convention Centre.
"I feel really good," said Van Gerwen, the winner in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018.
"I didn't really perform but I did some phenomenal things in patches and that made me win this game - the 135 hurt him so much.
"Jamie played well, especially for his first time in this event. I was struggling at times and I can do a lot better than this, but it's a short format so it's difficult.
Tournament favourite Van Gerwen now faces a second round tie on Tuesday against Dutch prospect Jeffrey de Zwaan, who dropped only one leg as he swept aside Steve Beaton in straight sets to race into the last 16 for a second successive year.
Derry's Daryl Gurney starts his bid to regain the title he won in 2017 against Holland's Danny Noppert this evening.
RECAP!— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) October 6, 2019
And so the opening night of the 2019 @BoyleSports draws to a close.
Michael van Gerwen survived a scare from Jamie Hughes, while Michael Smith battled past Simon Whitlock. pic.twitter.com/jVPLO86Mmy
Tonight 7pm (Best of 3 sets)
Stephen Bunting v Jonny Clayton
Vincent van der Voort v Nathan Aspinall
Adrian Lewis v Jermaine Wattimena
Glen Durrant v Krzysztof Ratajski
Daryl Gurney v Danny Noppert
Gerwyn Price v Dave Chisnall
Rob Cross v Mensur Suljovic
Peter Wright v Max Hopp