Column #HR4 Riley’s Dart Zone UK Open

Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Column HR4
Riley’s Dart Zone UK Open

There are times in a dart player’s life when everything is perfect. Every triple pulls your dart like a magnet as doubles are falling like the stock market, Jupiter aligns with Mars, you’ve found the Big Rock Candy Mountain right after you’ve hit the lotto after taking a call from your “soul mate fantasy.” In the words of Huey Lewis and the News, from their Sports CD, “This Is It!”

On May 24th in the year 2010 Phil Taylor climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in shorts and flip-flops while sipping a cup of Earl Grey breakfast tea in the afternoon. On that day Phil Taylor astounded the darting world with a display of darts unknown. Wrapping up the Premier League for 2010 he averaged 107.98 in the semi’s then did the Emeril Lagasse by “kicking it up” to 111.67 for the finals. The win was worth £125,000 with runner-up James Wade adding £65,000 to his bank account which ain’t exactly chump change. This is the place when the Old Dart Coach cues the late Peggy Lee to sing “Is That All There Is?” With Phil Taylor anything that is possible is probable and predictable.

The Old Dart Coach remembers the British Open when it was held in the Rainbow Suite with first place £1,000 and two gallon’s of paint. Darts Living Legend, Mr. John Lowe, scrounged the paint from his sponsor. With the BDO running things, today the rewards for the British Open are probably about the same but without the paint. This year the Rileys Darts Zone UK Open, a cross between the British Open and the old news of the World, would pay out £200,000 in cash and buy your own paint. “Amateurs” qualified for the event through regional events then got thrown to the wolves at the round of 64, but not without a chance at the top spot. Well not the top spot as this was not a “PTNH” tournament. That would be “Phil Taylor’s Not Here.” They might have been thinking that maybe Mr. Taylor had peaked the previous week. Maybe some of the older “amateurs” were singing the old Chad and Jeremy song “That was yesterday but yesterday’s gone.” Yea right!!! The ODC was as he had just seen the 1970’s duo at the Cannery Casino in Las Vegas for free. The ODC loves free more than monkeys love bananas.

Wayne Mardle, who had been in a slump since last December, came through the early rounds only to get a dose of Taylor in the round of 64. Taylor jumped out to 8-0 lead winning 9-2. Stating the obvious Taylor said, “It was a bit of a mismatch.” The come back attempt of Peter “No Dart” Manley wasn’t as fortunate as he went out in the second round. Two years ago at the Reebok Stadium transplanted Yank, Gary “The Mailman” Mawson, reached the finals. This time around he went out in round 2 to Dylan Duo of Gibraltar. Of the 32 players who won spots in the field only four made it to the round of 64.

Scotland’s Gary Anderson gave notice going to 32 when he posted the highest average of the event so far at 106 during a 9-4 thumping of Holland’s Michael van Gerwen 9-4 in which he tossed eight 180’s. Anderson stated the oblivious following the match: “My scoring was great.” World #5, Terry Jenkins, who finished at the bottom of the Premier League standings, got plowed by Wes Newton, 9-1. Jenkins can be consoled though, somewhat, as his last place finish in the Premier League was worth £25,000. The only father-son combo in the tournament, Colin and Arron Monk, both were shown the exit. Arron 9-5 against Dennis Ovens. The bearded Ovens, a pal of the ODC, is a survivor from “back in the day.” A contemporary of the Lowe’s and Bristow’s, he, like Dennis Priestley, continues to perform a very high level against the very best.

Those that thought maybe Phil Taylor would be a “little off” after his record breaking performance during the Premier League finals again made a mistake. In laying the “snyder’ on Kevin Painter 9-0 Taylor averaged a television world record average of 118.66. Painter never tossed a dart at a double as his “fruit of the looms” went flying. Gary Anderson was quoted as saying: “The only person who scares me in darts is myself.” Mervyn King tossed a 9-darter at Anderson, 180-180-141, to move up 7-6. King also led 8-7 in the race to 9. Anderson then took the next two, including the decider with a d6 after King missed, for the 9-8 win. King also had a 9-darter last September at the Virgin Atlantic South African Masters after which he went on to lose to James Wade. Note to King, “Stay away from 9-darters – the Dart God is fickle.”

Most of the names in the quarters were the usual suspects with the exception of Dennis Ovens who fell behind 1-0 with the darts to Andy Smith and then took the next 9 legs for the “W,” and #62-ranked Tony Ayres. The latter would steal the spotlight with a gusty display against James Wade that saw him through to the semi’s by a 10-9 score. Ayres led 3-0 and 6-3. Wade would land d18 for 6-4. It should have been 6-5 but Wade missed a pair of doubles which allowed Ayres to overcome “brain gas” to take out 73 for a 7-4 lead. In the next 5 legs Wade connected his doubles resulting in a 9-8 lead. At 9-8 Wade missed three match darts which allowed Ayres to finish 152 to tie then strike a 13-darter for the win. “Brain Gas?” – a polite way of saying he miscounted. Ovens and Ayres would be joined in the semi’s by Gary Anderson, a 10-6 winner over Andy Hamilton with a 106.49 average, and Phil Taylor who toyed with Adrian Lewis 10-2. Shed no tears for the losers in this round as they would collect £6,000 which will buy a lot of Miller Genuine.

The semi’s promised a lot with match ups’ of Anderson/Ayres and Taylor/Ovens. Like “yes I love you all my heart forever” this promise went by the wind. Possibly Ayres was just emotionally drained and who could blame him. He fell behind Gary Anderson 4-1 and never caught up losing 10-3. Ovens, a 25-year pro, gave it a hell of a run but just couldn’t match Taylor’s 113 average or Taylor’s aim in hitting 10 of 12 double attempts. Ovens did lead 4-2 before Taylor “turned it up” with legs of 14, 12, 11, 12, and 14 for a 7-4 lead. Ovens would cut the lead to 7-5 but Taylor answered with 11, 14, and 12 for a spot in the finals. “I haven’t seen Denis play that well on TV and I’m pleased for him,” said Taylor. “He countered everything I did so I had to hit that big average.” Ayres and Ovens will take away the crowd’s “attaboys” for a battle well fought and £10,000 pounds.

The final against Gary Anderson was all defending champion Phil Taylor. He started his 11-5 onslaught with a 161 finish that set the tone in the race to 11. Anderson, appearing in his first PDC final, had no answer falling behind 5-1 but did close to 6-3. Taylor would then win 5 of the next 7 for the win. Along the way Taylor used a 167 finish ending with 121 for the crown and the £40,000 first place money. In just 7 days Taylor would add £165,000 pounds to the Bank of Taylor. Might be possible that the Taylor family is singing the 1946 hit “Let the Good Times Roll” written and recorded by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five.

TROPICANA HOTEL WORLD SERIES OF DARTS FESTIVAL
In the ever evolving world of professional darts one event has left the building like Elvis but another signed the register. Gone is the North American Open Darts Tournament, which was considered a major, now maybe replaced by the Tropicana Hotel World Series of Darts Festival starting the last Saturday in June. During the five-day run there will be five different events with a total purse of $200,000 USD starting off with the $23,000 World Cricket Championships. Cricket was a game invented by Yanks because they couldn’t hit doubles. Too late they discovered that if you can hit a double then triples are a piece of cake. Advanced handicapping would suggest that North American players familiar would have a edge. Yea right!!

The $48,000 PDC US Open will be followed by a pair of Las Vegas Players Championships with the North American Darts Championship to close the festival. As the name implies, only North American players are eligible for the final event. Kind of give the locals a shot.

Players and fans traveling should enjoy the switch to the Tropicana Hotel situated on the famous Las Vegas Strip. To be polite it’s more “user friendly” than then former venues. At press time Phil Taylor hasn’t decided whether he’ll make the trip. Every player hopes he stays home while the promoter’s are probably praying “Please Phil.” The Old Dart Coach doesn’t care because his pal Dennis Ovens just cashed so maybe “The Old One” can finagle a lager or 20.

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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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