Michael Smith made an inauspicious start to the Unibet Premier Darts League, losing his opening match 7-3 to Middlesbrough debutant Glen Durrant in Aberdeen last night (Thursday).
The St Helens star of the oche - runner-up to Dutchman Michael van Gerwen in the 2018 final - matched his rival's 95 average early on but fell short in the finishing stakes and quickly found himself 5-2 in arrears
Smith clawed back a leg straight away with a 74 checkout but it proved all in vain as the Teesider took the next leg and then guaranteed victory with a double 16.
Durrant - a three times BDO world champion - said: ''It was a great start for me to beat a player of Michael's quality on one of the biggest occasions of my career so far.
''Michael makes the game look effortless and I didn't mean to upset his rhythm with my slower play
''Three years ago, I was watching the premier league on a tiny TV set at a club in Stockton and people were saying to me 'you could be playing in his one day, Glen,' and now its happened. It's an amazing story.''
Smith will be hoping for a better result when he faces Welshman Gerwyn Price in round two at Nottingham next Thursday.