James Wade finally ended a three-year wait for a tournament victory as he claimed an emotional win in the Gibraltar Darts Trophy on Sunday night.
The Aldershot ace had not tasted glory since winning Players Championship events on successive weekends in October 2011 in Germany and Spain.
But he left Gibraltar £20,000 richer after beating Steve Beaton 6-4 in a tense final.
The seven-time major winner had to win through the qualifiers in Crawley just to secure a place in the Gibraltar Darts Trophy’s main event, but showed his class throughout the weekend at the Victoria Stadium.
Having enjoyed 6-3 wins over Gino Vos and Andy Hamilton on the opening two days, he hit back from 5-4 down to defeat Dutch youngster Benito van de Pas in the third round on Sunday afternoon.
He then saw off Kim Huybrechts 6-4 in the quarter-finals and dropped only two legs in his semi-final win over Michael Smith, before going all the way in a thrilling final with Beaton.
After sharing the opening two legs, Beaton took out 99 in the third, hit a 13-darter to break and then finished tops for a 4-1 cushion.
Wade, though, hit back on tops before breaking throw with a brilliant 11-dart finish, which featured two 180s, before levelling the game in leg eight by punishing missed doubles from Beaton with a 76 finish.
He then moved ahead for the first time in a pivotal ninth leg, opening with a 180 and finishing with double ten as Beaton – who hit a 177 in reply - missed double 11 for a majestic 142 finish.
Wade’s momentum continued with a 140 and two tons in the next leg as he was first to a finish, with double ten helping him secure glory.
“I’ve won so many tournaments but it got to a point where I thought I wasn’t going to win another one, and this means more to me than any TV tournament I’ve ever won,” said Wade, who moves back up to fifth in the PDC Order of Merit.
“I wasn’t quite sure if I could do it. Even though people said I could win more titles, it’s different actually doing it so I’m really happy.
“I grew up watching Steve and other great players, and he said afterwards that he was pleased to see me winning again, which is a mark of the man.
“I really enjoyed this weekend and at 4-1 down in the final I just wanted to relax and make a game of it.
“I’m still a long way from my best but I never give up and I’ve shown a lot of determination. I’ve got no fear of hitting the winning double but it’s getting to it that’s the hard bit!”
Lakeside favourite Beaton added: “Fair play to James, he’s had a tough year or two but that’s why he’s up at the top of the game and such a good player.
“I had some chances and didn’t take them, and James was the better man in the final.”