Manawatu darts player Derrick Samson purses up his lips when you ask him why he's called ET.
"No one know to this day knows why and I'd like to keep it that way," Samson firmly says outside the Hastings Darts Association Hall in Kings Street in between deep drags on his cigarette after collecting the $1000 prizemoney in the North Island Masters Championships yesterday.
But the 42-year-old has no qualms about disclosing what he does for a living.
"I sell drugs," he says, taking another drag amid pin-drop silence, getting 100 percent attention from other competitors around him.
"Oh, I supply drugs to pharmacies, including those in Hawke's Bay, for a pharmaceutical firm called Propharmac," he elaborates amid laughter intermingled with sighs of relief.
In a sport that champions a player's mind-over-matter abilities to shut out as many distractions as possible, suffice it to say that Samson doesn't have to resort to any drugs to improve his mental fortitude. Instead, he employs deep-breathing techniques to soothe his nerves.
While not matching the grunting decibels of tennis players such as Maria Sharapova, Samson huffed and puffed his way to his first New Zealand-ranking tournament victory yesterday to improve from No12 in the country to a top-five one. He outplayed Wainuiomata's Wayne Carey in the final by 5-1 games after cruising to a 4-0 start in the nine-leg clash.
He finished his fourth leg emphatically with 14 darts, scoring the maximum 180 for 501 points in the straight-start-double-finish match, after managing 22, 26 and 19-dart wins in the previous three.
Carey's 22-dart victory in the fifth proved to be an aberration as Samson sealed his fate with a 20-dart conclusion in the sixth leg. However, the losing finalist pocketed $500 for his troubles.
No one in an elite field of 67 competitors, including current New Zealand singles champion Steve Gooch, from New Plymouth, could stake a claim to the Pumas-sponsored $10,000 prizemoney for a nine-dart 501-point finish.
Carey defeated Gooch in one seven-leg semi while Samson overwhelmed Hawke's Bay's best placegetter, Trevor Walters, 4-2, in the other. Walters, a Four Square supermarket owner/operator in Greenmeadows, was guilty of shooting too many high-and-low "valley" shots from the wooden ochre, placed 2.37m from the board.
"I had too many up and unders. I had too many 60s and he was hitting 100s, so the scores came down much quicker for him," says the Hastings Darts Association member who also plays at Taradale Darts Association on Thursday nights.
Hutt Valley's Jonathan Tata, 12, son of former national singles champion, Ra, raised few eyebrows when he beat Palmerston North's Lawrie Turner and Masterton pair Steve Morete and Pierre Guillard to make the cut but lost in the first round of the business end.