FORGOTTEN DARTERS: Two-time World Master Whitcombe who lost two World Championship finals to Bristow
In this Forgotten Dcolumn we regularly reminisce about a 'forgotten darter' from the past. Today it is the turn of Dave Whitcombe. He won the Winmau World Masters twice, but lost to Eric Bristow in two World Championship finals.
Whitcombe made his debut in the BDO in 1978 and qualified for the World Championship for the first time two years later. After a victory in the opening round against the American Len Heard, he lost in the second round to Bobby George. In the following two years, he also went out in the second round at the World Championship.
First major win and first World Championship final
His big break came in 1982 at the Winmau World Masters. In the quarter-finals he produced a shock by beating Eric Bristow and in the end he would also win the tournament after beating Jocky Wilson 2-1 in the final. It was a breakout for Whitcombe and he first made it past the second round at the World Championship in 1983. In the quarterfinals, Eric Bristow was narrowly too strong with a 4-3 win. A year later he did even better. After victories over Bob Sinnaeve, Steve Brennan, Nicky Virachkul and Jocky Wilson, he was in a World Championship final for the first time. Eric Bristow, however, was far too strong winning 7-1, it was the only set that Bristow lost that tournament.
1985 turned out to be another particularly good year for Whitcombe. He won the Finnish Open and the Swedish Open and reached the final of the Winmau World Masters again. By beating Ray Farrell 3-0 in the final, he grabbed his second World Masters crown.
Bristow too strong again
Whitcombe last reached a World Championship final in 1986 at the age of 32. In the Lakeside Country Club he lost to Eric Bristow once more after victories against Arto Lintunen, Ceri Morgan, Jocky Wilson and Bob Anderson.
Whitcombe won the British Matchplay in 1987 and the News of the World Championship in 1989, but afterwards he slowly faded away. In 1992 he last participated in the BDO World Championship, where he was defeated 3-1 in the opening round against the Dane Per Skau.
Founder of WPDPA
That same year in 1992, he was with some other top darts players such as John Lowe and Cliff Lazarenko at the cradle of the World Professional Dart Players Association (WPDPA), the predecessor of the World Darts Council, which later became the PDC. However, he never officially became a member of the PDC as he announced his retirement from the sport in 1992 at the age of just 38.
Whitcombe later made a comeback, even took part in the PDC World Championship in 2006 (3-1 loss in the first round against Roland Scholten), But was never able to repeat his past performances. In the years that followed, he still played regularly at invitational tournaments for former top players and he was also active in local competitions. Whitcombe is now 66 years old and is enjoying his retirement in Sittingbourne in Kent.