SALZBURG, Austria — Canadian Jeff (The Silencer) Smith rallied from a 5-1 deficit to edge Fallon Sherrock 6-5 Friday in first-round play at the 300,000-pound ($511,7260) Bwin World Series of Darts Finals.
Sherrock made history last December and won a legion of supporters as the first woman to win a game at the PDC World Championship.
Smith, a 44-year-old from Hampton, N.B., who walked out to Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69," took the first leg, then lost the next five. He responded by winning the next five legs to advance, nailing a double-16 to cap the remarkable comeback.
Four missed match darts across two legs eventually cost Sherrock.
"I feel like I should have lost that game, but I'm still here," said Smith. "To be honest I was the second-best player in the match.
"I got in the way of myself a little bit. I had a bad Autumn Series and my confidence was low, but I'll take the win. Hopefully (Saturday) I'll be better again. Fallon came at me hard and I was looking to respond. She was the one that let me off in that match and she's a credit to the game."
Smith will next face eighth-seeded James (The Machine) Wade, the 2018 World Series of Darts Finals champion, in the second round.
The 24-player event, which runs through Sunday at the Salzburgarena, is the PDC's first to be staged in front of a live crowd — around 1,000 — in more than six months.
With the world's top eight players seeded through to the second round, Friday's first-round action featured 12 invited players from around the world alongside four qualifiers.
Top-seeded Dutch star Michael van Gerwen has won four of the previous five editions of the World Series of Darts Finals since the event was introduced in 2015. Wade is the only one to have interrupted van Gerwen's run of success.
The tournament sponsor, bookmaker Bwin, lists van Gerwen as the favourite at 5-2 to collect the 70,000-pounds ($119,410) first prize. Smith is listed at 125-1 to win the event while Sherrock was 300-1.
Smith won his way back onto the Professional Darts Corporation circuit in mid-January at the PDC Qualifying School in Wigan, England. Sherrock, 26, was also at Q School but failed to earn her tour card.
In February, Smith made it to the final in his first event before losing 8-4 to former world champion Gary (Flying Scotsman) Anderson at the Players Championship One in Barnsley, England.
Smith reached the semifinals of the PDC Summer Series in July, losing to van Gerwen, the eventual winner.
He is the lone Canadian on the PDC tour.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2020.
The Canadian Press