Don’t try telling Simon “Wizard” Whitlock there’s no home advantage in darts.
The 46-year-old is back in his home state for this week’s Sydney Darts Masters and hoping to be driven to success by a partisan crowd.
“The crowds do play a big part, especially if they’re against you, they can make you lose the whole thing,” said the two-time world championship runner-up.
“I played (Scot) Gary Anderson in Glasgow once and honestly, they killed me.
“I felt like a little ant when I was playing him, just from the intimidation it was horrible.
“Hopefully I get some good support here.”
Ranked world No.10, Whitlock will be one of eight Australian competitors vying with the world’s top eight at the Sydney Masters, one of three Australian fixtures in the PDC World Series of Darts.
Whitlock has recently changed darts in a bid to propel himself back into title contention, after a three-year major title drought.
He feels he’s finally adjusted to the new gear and ready to let loose.
“It’s really difficult to change equipment and be the best with it straight away – the shape, the weight, it’s completely different,” he said.
“I’ve worked so hard, some days I’ve been practising five, six hours a day.
“I feel the form is pretty good at the moment, I’m practicing well, playing well.”
That wasn’t good enough in Perth last week as he lost in the first round against Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld, and he expects the competition in Sydney to be just as fierce.
“I played a good game, averaged 99, a couple of one-dart chances to get myself in the match and missed but that’s how close the games are these days, hitting or missing one double here or there makes a difference,” he said.
“It’s incredible how hard it is now. You can play the 128th-ranked player in the world and you’re still going to get as a tough a game as any of these (top) guys. There are no easy games anymore.”
The winner in Perth was Englishman Phil Taylor, the 16-time world champion widely considered to be the finest of all time.
Taylor defeated compatriot James Wade 11-7 to take the Perth crown for the second year running continuing his undefeated streak in Australian tournaments.
The 55-year-old maestro said that as young talents rise up to challenge him, most notably current world No.1 Michael van Gerwen, he’s had to keep pushing even harder.
“You have to try harder as you’re getting older. Obviously some things change, your eyesight starts changing,” he said.
“You have to try and work a little harder, and try and reinvent yourself – a bit like Madonna I suppose.”
Competition kicks off at the Qantas Credit Union Arena on Thursday.