Ian White might find it hard to watch tonight’s World Matchplay action.

Not because he holds any ill will against Stephen Bunting, or anyone else still in the tournament – but because he will feel like it should be him on the Winter Gardens stage. White’s collapse against Bunting in the second round was the most heart-wrenching moment of the World Matchplay to date.

At 9-4 up, Stoke’s number one was within reach of a first quarter-final at the Winter Gardens since 2015. But in the midst of a remarkable fightback from Bunting, White missed five match darts and surrendered 10 of the last 13 legs, to lose 14-12.

Speaking to Dan Dawson after the game, White’s devastation was tangible.

“Very heartbreaking. I don’t deserve it,” said White.

“I missed all the doubles – it’s just haunted me again, hasn’t it.

“Played ever so well. A bit stroppy at first, but at the end of the day I had my chances, and I didn’t take them.

“I should’ve won that.”

Double trouble

The worry for fans of the world number 10 is that the World Matchplay will go down as another example of White’s ability to turn serious talent – and excellent performances elsewhere – into success at big TV tournaments.

Questions abound over his ability to handle the big moments, but White insists that the gravity of the situation wasn’t a factor in the collapse.

“No, there was nothing. It was just – throw, and hit it, and let’s get through.

“It doesn’t matter if it was quarter-finals or not, I was here to win it.

“Playing well all year, and I’m just gutted I missed those doubles.”

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

“I felt great”

White’s World Matchplay couldn’t have started any better. The Stoke ace thrashed Joe Cullen 10-0 for a rare whitewash. It was looking like he may cruise past Bunting too. The Bullet bounced back however, and tipped the balance to earn his quarter-final spot. White feels, with some justification, that Bunting wouldn’t have had that chance if he hadn’t opened the door for a comeback.

“I just felt so good this year, I felt great,” said White.

“I’ve let him in. Don’t get me wrong, he’s hit the winning doubles, and well done to him.

“But he shouldn’t have got there in the end.”

Moving on

A World Matchplay exit is always hard to bear, especially when a big chance is missed. White now has a comeback of his own to plan, with key majors coming up in the latter half of the year. Once the pain of this defeat is processed, all eyes will be on the likes of the Grand Slam, World Grand Prix and the World Championship.

“I’m going to be gutted now for the next few hours, and I’ll be fed up, or whatever,” admitted the 48-year-old.

“But I’ll get back up to it, and get ready for September – they’re the big ones.”

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Author: Ed McCosh