Darts: Mark McGrath eyes PDC pro tour after impressive Auckland Masters display

After claiming the biggest win of his career at the Auckland Darts Masters, Kiwi Mark McGrath now has his sights set on winning a Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) tour card.

The 50-year-old beat Michael Smith 6-4 in the first round at the Masters to become the first Kiwi to win in the fourth edition of the annual event on Friday night.

Sixteen times before a New Zealander had taken to the stage at Henderson's Trusts Arena, and each time they had walked off unsuccessful until McGrath came up with the goods.

Sadly, he couldn't repeat those efforts in the quarter-finals against five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, losing 10-4.

Despite the loss, it has been a successful weekend for "The Cowboy" who now has his sights set on claiming a tour card which would give him the right to compete on the pro circuit.

New Zealander number one Cody Harris attended 'Q-School' at the start of the year but missed out. He has since joined the Challenge Tour – the PDC's second-tier tournament where the top two-ranked player earns a tour card. 

"I'm still in the running to go to the British Darts Organisation (BDO) world championships at Lakeside, so I'm going to crack on with that, and then I'll look to go to Q-School," McGrath told Newshub.

"My years are limited but I'm still young on the inside, and I still have a love for the game. 

"Competing in Auckland was about character building and giving something back to my team because they have been great to me over the years.

"The future of darts in New Zealand is in a promising place."

McGrath admitted getting the opportunity to face both Van Barneveld and Smith in the space of two days was an unreal experience.

"I remember first watching Barney back at Lakeside in 2002 and Michael Smith is one of my favourite players to watch, so it's been a surreal experience.

"My phone kept on going off all day long with messages of support so I had to give it to my wife so she could deal with it all."

Van Barneveld admitted that his on-stage experience helped him get over the line against the hometown hero.

 "The crowd was amazing tonight," the 51-year-old Dutchman told Newshub.

"Fans were cheering for me, but when I gave Mark a chance, they started supporting him because he's a New Zealander.

"Mark played brilliant tonight, and I think I got over the line on experience."

He will face Australian Simon Whitlock for a spot in Sunday's final.

The other final four match sees Michael van Gerwen face Peter Wright after they overcame Gary and Kyle Anderson 10-4, and 10-3 respectively in their quarter-final clashes.

It is the first time both Van Gerwen and Wright have made the semis in Auckland.


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