YORKSHIREMAN Joe Cullen suffered an agonising first-round defeat at the William Hill World Darts Championship.
Cullen, the 19th seed, from Bradford, was beaten 3-2 by Holland’s Jermaine Wattimena after missing four darts to win the match at Alexandra Palace in north London.
The opening two sets were completed in less than 10 minutes with Wattimena claiming the first in four-and-a-half minutes and Cullen levelling in just two minutes and 45 seconds.
A frantic clash went one way and then the other and was packed with quality as well as the fast and furious pace, with both hitting two three-figure checkouts and averaging around 96.
After two one-sided sets, both won 3-0, the third was more competitive with Cullen mixing in a 13-darter with two 180s, but it was not enough as Wattimena took out 111 in the opener and 70 in the decider.
Cullen then took his turn to dominate the see-saw encounter as he took out 66, 130 and 84 for yet another quick-fire set and then added a fourth leg in a row with a 79 to start the fifth set.
Wattimena hit an amazing 141 to reply, but Cullen moved ahead and looked set to clinch the tie, only to miss four match darts – including double-top for a 160 checkout – and allow the Dutchman to force a tie-break at two-all in both sets and legs.
Cullen crumbled in the extra legs and Wattimena cleaned up the next two to reach the second round for the first time and secure a tie with Steve West.
Huddersfield postman Peter Jacques also crashed out, losing his first-round match 3-1 to Australian Kyle Anderson.
Also in the second round are England’s Alan Norris, who beat Finland’s Kim Viljanen 3-0, and Jamie Lewis, who won an all-Wales encounter with Jonny Clayton by the same margin.
Gary Anderson beat qualifier Jeff Smith 3-0.
Jan Dekker shocked Dutch compatriot Jelle Klaasen after recovering from a slow start to win 3-1. There were two shocks early on day three as Benito van de Pas and Mervyn King were both dumped out.
World No 14 Van de Pas was beaten 3-1 by West, Zoran Lerchbacker did for King, the world No 22, coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2.