Column #HR2 The 2010 Premier League Penultimate Night… and MORE!

Monday, May 17, 2010
Column HR2
The 2010 Premier League Penultimate Night… and MORE!

It came with the heading as the “Penultimate Night of Darts” to be played at Newcastle. The Old Dart Coach had no idea what “penultimate” meant. He did know it was set-up night for the final night of Premier League Play. With Phil Taylor secured in the top spot five players were still in the hunt for three spots. The real prize was to finish second in the final standings so as dodge Taylor in the semi’s at Wembley. To quote Bill Shakespeare, the night was “Much to do About Nothing.” At night’s end there were still 5 players in the hunt for 3 spots. Ronnie Baxter missed 8 match darts leading 7-5 to present Adrian Lewis a draw at 7 keeping Lewis’ slim playoff hopes alive.

A win by Mervyn King would have secured him a spot in the finals. He ran into a red-hot Raymond van Barneveld who jumped off to a 4-0 lead. Barney missed double top for a 5-0 lead that turned into 4 all. A 12-darter along with a pair of 76 checks gave Barney a 6-4 lead. At 6-5 the pair traded 180’s with Barney hitting the double first for 7-5 which turned into an 8-5 final. Simon “007” Whitlock, The Aussie Assassin, didn’t miss the target as he converted on 8 of 13 double attempts dispatching James Wade 8-4. After splitting the first two legs, against the darts, Whitlock nailed a 124 finish for the lead only to have Wade paint a 12-darter to level at 2. After a Wade missed double Whitlock got to 3-2 then 4-2. Wade narrowed the gap with a 180 which produced a 13-darter and 4-3 down. Whitlock ran off the next 3 to get to 7. Wade’s 127 finish got it to 7-3 but the rally stopped dead with Whitlock’s 100 finish for the win and second place in the standings. As expected Phil Taylor defeated Terry Jenkins. Taylor did trail 3-2 only to take 6 of the next 8 for the win.

THE LAST DANCE
It was the last dance for the five players fighting for three spots on the dance card for the Premier League Final at Wembley. Adrian Lewis faced the most daunting task as he had to beat Phil Taylor either 8-0 or 8-1. Taylor took Lewis apart 8-1. Lewis started 1-0 when the roof fell in. James Wade opened proceedings with an 8-5 win over Terry Jenkins that assured him of a place in the finals. Wade trailed early on but moved ahead 3-2 to stay. At 7-5 Wade, Jenkins set up the 141 finish missing the double 12 while Wade hit double 18 for the win. Simon Whitlock started his first Premier League season slow but finished like a man with his hair on fire. Whitlock averaged 104.60 while hitting 8 of 9 doubles beating Mervyn King 8-2. “Rocket” Ronnie Baxter’s flame out was completed when he went out to a rejuvenated Raymond van Barneveld 8-2. Baxter’s post match comments say it all. “I had a nightmare on my doubles. My scoring was no problem but when it came to the double it just didn’t happen.”

PRO TOUR… WIGAN PAR UNO
Since last we spent time together the PDC Tour has made two trips to Wigan. That confused the heck out of the Old Dart Coach. In the first visit Wes Newton scored the win thus making it 6 months between Pro Tour victories. Newton was on a roll going 35-14 and seeing off Andy Smith 6-2 in the final. Newton had to show some grit when he blew a 5-1 lead in the semi’s against Andy Hamilton only to “bottle up” for the “W”. In the final Newton opened a 3-nil lead he then extended for the win. In true Phil Taylor fashion Newton said of his win “It’s a great win, I’m over the moon.”

On Sunday it was a battle of the Colin’s and no I’m not going there. Colin Lloyd would emerge triumphant 6-3 after dropping the first leg of the final to Colin Osborne who rode a 180 for that leg. That would be Osborne’s last lead as Lloyd acquired the next 4 including an 11-darter. Osborne narrowed the lead to 4-2 and was on the verge of making it 4-3 when he missed 7 doubles giving the 7th leg to Lloyd. At 5-2 up the players traded legs with Lloyd’s 180 and 12-darter giving him the title and a spot in the UK Open.

PRO TOUR… WIGAN PAR DEUX
Simon “007” Whitlock rolled to victory in Wigan with only John Part forcing a deciding leg in the fourth round. In the final Whitlock took out Andy Hamilton 6-0 for his third Pro Tour recent victory. Hamilton may have be a little light headed as he tossed a 9-darter in defeating Mark Webster to reach the finals. Down 4-0 Hamilton did have three meaningless darts at d16 and d8. Transplanted Yank Gary “The Mailman” Mawson fell to Whitlock in the semi 6-1.

Sunday’s day of darts at Wigan was the 8th and final UK Open Qualifier. James Wade got the win after rallying from 2-1 down to Gary Anderson taking five on the trot for the 6-2 win. When Anderson missed double tops on a 107 finish Wade was off and running. At 3-2 up Wade put on a show of championship skill. Running the table over the next three legs Wade had finishes of 120, 144, 104 and a pair of 12-darters. Throughout the day Wade was never challenged with only Steve Beaton and Brendan Dolan getting as close as 6-3. Wade went 35-13 on his way to the win.

LEDERHOSEN, BRATS AND BEER
The PDC visit Salzburg… that would be Austria for those who matriculated though the American school system where it was a generally accepted as fact that “if you beat the man you be the man.” Steve Beaton had to be thinking that he was “the man” when he sent Phil Taylor to the sideline with a 6-5 win in the semis. Beaton showed guts and determination overcoming a 4-2 deficit and a 111 average for the win. Beaton took three to lead 5-4. Taylor leveled but then missed two at a double. Beaton checked out for the win. In the final against “007” Simon Whitlock, Beaton had an early 3-zip lead thanks to Whitlock’s missed 7 doubles. When Beaton missed 4 doubles, Whitlock leveled at 3 with the help of a 120 check. Beaton answered with an 11-darter for 4-3 only to have Whitlock answer in 14. Whitlock used a 161 finish to move into the lead 5-4 then held throw for the win and to become “the man.” This was Whitlock’s fourth Pro Tour title of the year.

On Sunday as a new day dawned Phil Taylor bounced back from Saturday’s defeat for a 6-4 win in the final. Taylor defeated Simon “007” Whitlock who had an opening leg 9-darter (180-180-105 and double 18). Whitlock would follow that up with 13 darts for a 2-0 lead. When Whitlock missed four checks he cracked the door which Taylor kicked open. Taylor would get to 5-3 with a 10-darter with the darts. Looking for the winning 6th leg Taylor was waiting on 40 when Whitlock made 121 disappear. With the darts Whitlock had one dart to extend the match but missed double tops which Taylor didn’t for the “W.” Taylor won the day but Whitlock won the weekend with £9,000 in prize money.

OLD DART COACH
While in Thailand and the Philippines the Old Dart Coach spent time with many times Philippine darts champion Bruce McTavish. Darts fans may not know his name but boxing fans recognize McTavish as one of the best referee’s in the world. “I haven’t played darts in years. When courting my wife Carmen it came down to darts or Carmen. I choose Carmen.”

I never saw “Cuz” Bruce play darts but I met his lovely wife. Good choice. A no brainer. Who says darts players are dumb?

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Howie Reed
The one and only Howie Reed (the Old Dart Coach) goes back decades with the legends of our sport - he knows where the skeletons are buried. Just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers! His widely popular column, Toeing the Oche, is a must-read.

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