The Winmau World Masters is of course the longest running darts tournament in the world and one of the few that has equal ranking-point status with the World Championship on the BDO circuit. But just how many of the finalists over the years can you remember? We look at over 40 years of Winmau World Masters final history ahead of the 2017 edition this weekend.
Unlike other major tournaments, the World Masters also includes Ladies and Youth tournaments – we take some time to look at the history of these as well.
The World Masters was first contested in 1974, although in its first two years the title sponsor was Phonogram. The tournament has been contested every year since.
The first ever World Masters in 1974 was won by Cliff Inglis, who took home a cheque for £400. The following year, Alan Evans received £1,000 for defeating David Rocky Jones in the final.
In the period 1976 to 1988 it was the time of the original darts big-hitters. Eric Bristow (5 times), John Lowe (2), Dave Whitcombe (2) and Bob Anderson (3) won the tournament exclusively for 13 years, with the exception of 1978 when it was won by Ronnie Davis. The last time any of those four appeared in the final was 1989, when Eric Bristow lost to Peter Evison.
The next sixteen years (1989 to 2004) saw sixteen different winners, including Phil Taylor (’90), Dennis Priestley (’92), Richie Burnett (’94), Andy Fordham (’99), Raymond van Barneveld (’01) and Mervyn King (’04).
2006 saw a first appearance (and only defeat) in the final for Martin Adams – he lost that year 7-5 to Michael van Gerwen. Adams subsequently played in the final three years running (2008-2010), winning on each occasion against Scott Waites, Robbie Green and Stuart Kellett respectively. Wolfie hasn’t made the final since then.
Waites would return to the final three years later, in 2011, to defeat Dean Winstanley. It was the turn of Stephen Bunting in 2012 & 2013 as he saw off the challenges of Tony O’Shea and James Wilson. 2014’s final saw another defeat for a James, this time Jamie Hughes, who lost 7-3 to Martin Phillips – it was both players first appearance in the World Masters final.
The last two years have belonged to the reigning World Champion, Glenn Durrant. In 2015 he beat the only American ever to have reached the Masters Final, Larry Butler, 7-3. Last season it was the turn off Mark McGeeney to suffer at the hands of Durrant in a major final, losing 6-3.
Unlike other major tournaments, the World Masters also includes Ladies, Boys and Girls competitions.
The first ladies tournament was played eight years after the men’s initial tournament, in 1982. That first title was won by Ann Marie Davies of Wales, beating Maureen Flowers in the final.
The first seven years were won by seven different ladies. The first player to play in two finals was Sonja Ralphs, winning in 1983 and losing out to the New Zealander, Lillian Barnett, in 1985.
Mandy Solomonds was the first player to successfully defend the title (in 1989), and remained the only lady to do so for 14 years until Trina Gulliver managed to do so in 2003 – more on Trina in a moment.
Deta Hedman played her first World Masters Final in 1990, losing out to Rhian Speed of Wales – it was the third time the ladies version had been won by a Welsh player in those first 11 years. Mandy would make the final three more times, winning twice more (1993 & 1997), and losing out to Deta in her first Masters victory in 1994.
In the next eight years (1998 – 2005), Trina Gulliver made seven finals. Her first two ended in defeats to Karen Lawman (1998) and Francis Hoenselaar (1999), before achieving her first victory in 2000, again playing Hoenselaar in the final.
2001 saw the Scot Anne Kirk beat Marilyn Popp of the USA 4-0. 2002 to 2005 were truly the golden years for Trina, winning the title on all four occasions against Karen Lawman, Crissy Howat and Francis Hoenselaar (twice) to take her total number of World Masters titles to five.
After being runner-up two years running to Gulliver, Hoenselaar won the title for the second time in 2006, beating the fellow Dutch player, Karen Krappen. Krappen only had to wait one more year to win the tournament, beating Karen Lawman in 2007 – that was Lawman’s third appearance in the final since 1998.
Hoenselaar would appear in the final on two more occasions, winning in 2008 (against Anastasia Dombrmyslova in her first Masters final) and losing in 2010 to Julie Gore of Wales.
2009 saw the only appearance of Linda Ithurralde in the final, taking out Gulliver 4-3. Julie Gore won her second title in three years in 2012 – it was Hedman’s first final appearance since her victory in 1994!
2011 was Gulliver’s last appearance in the final, losing out 4-1 to Lisa Ashton. Deta would win her second Masters title 19 years after the first in 2013, beating Rachel Brooks 4-1. In 2014 Fallon Sherrock lost out to Dobromyslova, again with a 4-1 scoreline.
In 2015, Aileen de Graaf made her only appearance in the final to date, where she narrowly defeated Lisa Ashton, playing in her second final, 5-4.
Last year Trina Gulliver rolled back the years to grab her sixth World Masters title, a full 11 after her previous Masters title.
Young’uns – Boys & Girls
From 1986 to 1998, there was a Winmau World Masters Youth tournament, open to both girls and boys. The only girl ever to win the mixed-gender version was Leeanne Maddock in 1992, the same year she won the Ladies version beating Sandra Greatbatch in the final.
The winner of the first ever Youth final was Harith Lim of Singapore. Harith played in the PDC World Cup of Darts as recently as June this year, 31 years after his Youth World Masters win.
In 1999 the Youth tournament was disbanded, to be replaced by individual Boys and Girls competitions. The first five boys finals were all won by English players, including Stephen Bunting in 2001.
From 2004 to last year, there has only been three different English winners – Shaun Griffiths (2007 & 2008), Reece Robinson (2010) and Shaun Lovett in 2013.
After losing out to Shaun Lovett in 2013, Colin Roelofs returned to the final in 2014 to defeat Callan Rydz 4-1.
Justin van Tergouw has dominated the tournament in the last two years, beating Josh Richardson and Owen Maiden respectively. Five of the last six editions have been won by the Dutch.
The first two years of the girls only version was won by Janine Gough of Wales. Kimberley Lewis, another Welsh girl, would also win two titles in-a-row – 2007 & 2008.
Zoe Jones also won the tournament two years running in 2009 and 2010.
Fallon Sherrock (a possible winner of this years Ladies tournament) won the girls event in 2012 and this years defending Champion is Russia’s Veronika Koroleva.
2015 saw Lisa Ashton’s daughter start to build a career of her own by beating Rebecca Graham 4-1 in that years final.
Beau Greaves, runner-up in 2014 and 2016 will be hoping to go one step further this year.
Winmau – A Potted History
1945 – Founded by Harry Kicks and started producing handmade elm boards.
1961 – Kick’s sons joined the business and it was renamed H.A. Kicks & Sons.
1973 – Became official board supplier to the BDO.
1973 – Renamed to Winmau (pronounced win-more) after Harry’s wifes two first names, Winifred Maud.
1974 – First Winmau World Masters tournament (although the first two editions of the competition were sponsored by Phonogram).
1979 – Relocated to Haverhill, Suffolk.
1984 – Sudden death of Harry Kicks Senior – his sons take control.
1993 – Ron Kurtz became majority shareholder.
1997 – Blade board launched.
2002 – Nodor complete takeover of Winmau, but the Winmau name lives on.
2013 – 40th World Masters Tournament.
2015 – Still the official board supplier to the BDO.