Caldwell bags masters title
For Craig Caldwell, 2.37 metres can sometimes seem like a very long way.
That’s the distance from the piece of wood on the floor to the dartboard, an expanse he knows only too well.
The 38-year-old from Titahi Bay, a member of the Kapi Mana Darts Club, took out the Puma New Zealand Masters tournament on June 19. He was overjoyed to win the title at his home club, just off Kenepuru Drive.
Don’t be fooled by the ‘‘ Masters’’ moniker in the tournament’s title either – this is used to differentiate it from the upcoming New Zealand Open. The field in Porirua consisted 16 of the top 20 Kiwi players, along with overseas entrants.
‘‘It’s definitely my biggest win and it was so great to do it in front of so many friends and family. To play another [ Kapi Mana] club member in the final was special.’’
In a match that could have gone either way, Caldwell defeated the No 1 ranked player in the country, Koha Kokiri, 6-5.
‘‘We play each other all the time, we know each other’s game so well, and it just came down to a few darts – it was intense.’’
What made the win taste even sweeter was his father was watching. He saw Caldwell throw darts in his younger days, but had never seen him compete at a senior level.
‘‘I love competing – with darts there’s nowhere to hide,’’ says Caldwell. ‘‘You might throw a bad few darts, but you just have to keep standing up there, no matter what.’’
The Kapi Mana club has nearly 120 members and is one of the strongest in New Zealand, holding a number of North Island and national trophies. Last year its members hit 180 (the best possible three-dart score) just under 1000 times, with Caldwell and Kokiri accounting for a large percentage of those.
Their oldest member is 81, their youngest (competing) is 10. It’s like ‘‘one big family’’, Caldwell says.
‘‘It’s very social and playing regularly in tournaments and at club nights is really good for your game. What’s great about the success we have is that everyone is local. Darts is ultimately a selfish game – you play it on your own, but the club itself is about families.’’
Caldwell, ranked sixth in New Zealand and 48th in the world, will join defending champion Kokiri and other Kapi Mana members at the New Zealand Open in Nelson from August 7 to 12. And any advice for darts novices? ‘‘ Just keep practising those doubles [the thin outside segment of a number]. People think it’s all about the triple 20s, but it’s the doubles that win you games.’’
Dead-eye Craig: Porirua’s Craig Caldwell, ranked inside the top 10 darts players in New Zealand, will be one to beat at next month’s New Zealand Open.