L-r Hameed Ahmed, John Russell, Chad hood, David Bridges, Yvain Badan, Bernardo Samper, Ahmed Hamza

World No. 8 Bernardo Samper & world No. 3 Yvain Badan lifted their second SDA trophy of the season–the SDA Gold PDC Cup–at the Piedmont Driving Club in Atlanta, Georgia.

Samper & Badan entered the twelve-team draw as the top seeds with a predicted final against defending champion John Russell and his Finnish first-time partner Hameed Ahmed.

The surprise run of the tournament came courtesy of Bobby Burns & Jordan Greenberg in the top half of the draw. After a three-game first-round win over Joshua Schwartz & Peter Kelly, Burns & Greenberg took out four seeds Mike Ferreira & Aaron Luque 15-12, 8-15, 15-8, 15-12 to reach their first semifinal of the season. Outside of their semifinal foray, the draw played out according to seeding with the top three seeds all progressing to the semifinals.

The first semifinal saw Russell & Ahmed earn a 2-1 lead against three seeds Jonny Smith & Jacques Swanepoel, at which point Smith was forced to concede the match due to injury. The top seeds followed on with a decisive 15-12, 15-13, 15-5 semifinal victory against Burns & Greenberg.

A narrow start to the final saw both sides trade games with Samper & Badan taking the first 15-11, and Russell & Ahmed the second, 15-9. Samper & Badan crucially edged the third 15-13, before pulling away to win in the fourth 15-5.

“JR and Hameed played great and complemented each other well,” Badan said. “We found our groove during the finals and played well at the critical points in games one and three, which gave us the 2-1 lead. In the fourth we got even more comfortable and shot really well.”

The title marks Badan’s third of the season in addition to the Big Apple Open with Samper and the Westchester Country Club with James Stout. Last year, Russell won the PDC Cup with Scott Arnold. Ahmed marks his second final appearance of the season, following up the Denver Club Open in October.

“Swiss and I peaked at the right time in the tournament,” Samper said. “In the first two matches we didn’t feel that comfortable and we were struggling to play our game. In the final we played at a higher pace and took the openings well to finish the points. JR is a great player and it’s always fun to be on court with him. Hameed is very dangerous and is starting to be more confident on court. His name will be moving up the rankings quickly.”

Badan is now level with Damien Mudge with three PDC titles since its inception in 2013.

“It’s a wonderful group of people, which makes it a special place,” Badan said. “And any time you can win somewhere special, it feels great. Ahmed Hamza, Ted Griffith, Julian Mohr and everyone behind the tournament does a terrific job. The players are always grateful and excited to be part of the PDC Cup. We are already looking forward to coming back in 2019.”

The PDC Cup marks the final SDA event of the 2018 calendar year with the tour set to return to action in January 2019 with the MFS Pro-Am Boston, January 10-13.

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