Darts: Hamilton prove's he's Premier class
ANDY "The Hammer" Hamilton booked his place in the McCoy's Premier League play-offs last night with an emphatic win at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle – but world champion Adrian Lewis crashed out.
Lewis's 8-6 defeat at the hands of Simon Whitlock ended his top-four hopes and meant the following match between Hamilton and Kevin Painter was a must-win for both players.
The winner was guaranteed to finish in the play-off places along with Phil "The Power" Taylor and Whitlock.
And Hamilton, from Dresden, launched the match with a maximum 180 before going on to dish out an 8-1 thrashing.
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The win completed a terrific turnaround for Hamilton.
After six weeks of his debut campaign, he was bottom of the table and on his way out.
But Hamilton then rediscovered his famed fighting qualities, and powered back to seal a semi-final showdown with Whitlock next Thursday at London's O2 Arena.
And Hamilton will be confident of reaching the final, having never lost to Whitlock in front of the television cameras.
Crewe-based Taylor will meet James Wade after "The Machine" snatched fourth place with a 7-7 draw with Ray van Barneveld.
Taylor ended his campaign with a 7-7 draw against rock-bottom defending champion Gary Anderson.
Taylor had to come from 3-1 and 5-3 down to claim a point.
Hamilton beamed afterwards: "The top eight players in the world are in the Premier League, so to be among the top four means a hell of a lot.
"I showed true grit when I had to. I had no nerves. I was just determined to play well.
"I was bottom of the table earlier in the season, but was not playing bad darts. I've shown I can play in front of a big crowd and enjoy it.
"My ambition was to qualify and I've done it."
Lewis had gone into his match against Whitlock needing at least a point to stand a chance of snatching one of the two play-off spots available.
At 4-1 ahead, the 27-year-old from Cross Heath was on course for that. But Lewis missed a dart at double top for a 6-3 advantage and Whitlock got the break he needed to haul himself back into the match.
Going into the 13th leg, the scores were at 6-6 and Lewis only had to hold his throw to guarantee at least a point.
He left himself 69 – but looked on in horror as Whitlock took out a 140 finish. And the Aussie never looked back, holding his throw in the next leg to seal an 8-6 victory.