Michael Smith marked his first outing since becoming world champion with a resounding victory in the opening round of the Bahrain Darts Masters.
Smith, who beat Michael van Gerwen in a high-class World Championship final at Alexandra Palace last week, eased to a 6-1 win over local Abdulnasser Yusuf.
Smith raced to a 5-0 lead in quick time, including 131 checkout on double 20, before his 62-year-old opponent drew huge cheers by taking a leg off the world number one on his television debut.
‘Bully Boy’ did not need to recreate the electric performance that saw him take what instantly became a contender for greatest leg of all time, but confirmed he remained the man to beat with an authoritative show.
Smith will face Dimitri van den Bergh in the quarter-finals after he edged a nailbiter against Alain Abiabi.
Of the eight Asian qualifiers taking on PDC regulars Abiabi came closet to scoring an upset, coming back from 4-1 down to force a deciding leg.
Resurgent Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld was making his World Series comeback, having last appeared at this level in 2019, and despatched Yuki Yamada 6-2 with three 180s along the way. He next meets Luke Humphries.
Reigning World Series champion Gerwyn Price got up and running with a 6-2 victory over Singapore’s Paul Lim, concluding with a 139 finish.
Fellow Welshman Jonny Clayton awaits after he romped to a 6-0 victory over Basem Mahmood with a three-dart average of 103.
Peter Wright curried favour in the hall by wearing the colours of the Bahrain flag on his shirt and defeated Toru Suzuki 6-3. He will play Rob Cross, who beat Nitin Kumar.