Column #HR17 SURPRISE! It’s Taylor Again (at European Championships)

Monday, August 2, 2010
Column HR17
SURPRISE! It’s Taylor Again (at European Championships)

Back in the day when the Old Dart Coach was the Old Rodeo Guy the days around July 4th used to be called “Cowboy’s Christmas.” The name emerged from a string of rodeos around that holiday that could make or break a cowboy’s year. Now with darts a professional sport the PartyPoker.com European Championships could well be darts’ Boxing Day. If the premise is accepted, I hereby accept that The World Matchplay was dart players’ Christmas and welcome you to The Stadthalle in Dinslaken, Germany for Boxing Day. With £200,000 in prize money, including £50,000 for Phil Taylor, this tournament is a big deal, with 31 players fighting for £20,000 in runner up money.

So from Blackpool, called the “Poor Mans Las Vegas,” the PDC tour finds itself in Dinslaken which is known for a harness horse race track and its’ wealthy neighborhoods (at least according to Wikipedia which, like Thai Lady, we know never lies).

There’s lots of talk about “momentum” in all sports with some of it actually having some basis in fact. What is lost on many is that “negative mo” also has an effect. The “Mo” effect of course is lost on Phil Taylor as he cruised in the opening round 6-2 over Co. Stompe. Those carrying bad “Mo” into the first round were Paul Nicholson and Dennis Priestley who both went down 6-3 to Andy Smith and Simon Whitlock respectively. Scott Gary Anderson looked like he had “Mo” join him in the “Haggis and Kilt” set when he jumped to a 2-0 lead over Jamie Caven. Whoops. Caven then ran off 6 for the 6-2 win.

This time of year could also be planting season in Dinslaken as seeded players Mark Walsh and Terry Jenkins escaped the fate of Mervyn King. Adrian “Baby” Lewis and James Wade were seeded players who got planted. Spaniard Antonio Alcinas had Walsh in his sights leading 3-2 with a 160 finish. Walsh came back to win 6-3. Jenkins took a 4-2 lead when Germany’s Andree Welge came back to level. Jenkins then took the next two in style for the 6-4 win.

Barrie Bates definitely had “Mo” going with him as he jumped to a 5-nil lead over number 4 Mervyn King. The “Wee One” then held on for a 6-3 win. Adrian Lewis just didn’t show up going down without a whimper 6-3 to Wayne Jones, a quarter-finalist last week. For Lewis that’s two first round exits on the trot.

But what a difference a week makes – at least for Colin Lloyd. After he blew an 8-2 lead to Kevin Painter only to lose in the Matchplay the ODC nicknamed Lloyd “Collapse Likely.” The ODC is now dining on crow, yes with Fava Beans and a nice Chianti, as Lloyd gritted it out for a 6-4 win over James Wade. Lloyd led 4-2 then found himself level. This time he did an Emeril and “Kicked it up a notch.”

Michael van Gerwen, back from a broken collarbone, dispensed of German Tomas Seyler 6-4. Having better luck, local lad Bernd Roith did a job on Denis Ovens by the same score. That’s two first round exits in a row for the likeable Ovens. Scot Robert Thornton was embarrassed last week when fellow countryman Gary Anderson laid a 10-0 whipping on him at the Matchplay. Like Lloyd, he recovered from a “bad dream” for a 6-4 win over Mark Dudbridge.

Both Jelle Klaasen and fellow countryman Vincent van der Voort throw darts with the same speed as the Gatling gun of old. “I think I’ll try to play slower now in every tournament,” was Klaasen’s plan. NO EYE DEAR if he did or not. What is known is that Klaasen was down 3-1 but came back using finishes of 92 and 142 for the 6-4 win.

Both Klaasen and van der Voort live in the giant Dutch darting shadow of Raymond van Barneveld. He is and should be the darting standard for the darts-mad Dutch nation. “Oh sure they’re mad about other stuff also it’s just ‘you know man… like…’” A runner up last week in the Matchplay, Barney had to battle Andy Hamilton down to the wire to advance. In one of only two 6-5 games van Barneveld came from 2-4 down for the 6-5 win. This was a match where no one lost but someone won. Tied at 5 van Barneveld had the darts and an 11-darter later is was “Winner, winner chicken dinner.”

The last match in the first round pitted “Rocket” Ronnie Baxter against Alan Tabern. In a Baxter match it’s usually clear from the outset whether he’s on or not. Like the little girl in the fairy tale “when he’s good he’s very, very good.” Of course when’s he not he ain’t all that bad either. The ODC noticed, sharp old guy he, that Baxter had jettisoned the orange shirt worn at the Matchplay that had trouble winning. Tabern took leg one then the second when Baxter missed a bull for a 167 finish only to have Tabern erase 141. At one point Baxter was down 4-1 a deficit from which no one had yet escaped. Baxter missed three doubles when tied at 4 to go 5-4 down. The Rocket would level finishing on 79 then take the match, 6-5, with a 126 finish on the bull.

The second round, 16 to 8, was played best-of-19 or first to 10 whichever arrives first. The ODC ought to be a happy camper because only the Wayne Jones 10-4 throttling of Robert Thornton might have called for a “mercy rule.” This was the only match in that half of the draw where the winner out-averaged the loser. True fact. Terry Jenkins sent Simon Whitlock packing 10-8 after breaking a 7-7 tie. Jelle Klaasen found himself down 6-1 so did what all Dutch players do, he changed his darts. Must have worked as Klaasen got it back to 8-6 down after trailing 8-2. That was the wakeup call for Walsh who took the next two, closing the deal with a 128-heck for a 10-6 win.

Ronnie Baxter was outscored by Wes Newton but still emerged into the next round with a 10-9 win. Baxter had been up 7-4 and then 9-6 only to find himself level at 9. “At 9-6. I was playing really well but Wes came back brilliantly with those three legs. Wes was pounding the treble but in the last leg we were both probably as nervous as you can get, and fortunately I got the win.” Baxter missed double tops first trip to the line before getting another chance and getting the double 10.

Barrie Bates jumped out to leads of 2-0 and 4-2 when Jamie Caven got his scoring going to win 0-6. Caven would toss six T80’s while averaging more than 100 during that stretch. Colin Lloyd’s resurgence is now official. First he knocked out world #3 James Wade, now he scores a very good 101.13 in showing the door to Dutchman Michael van Gerwen, 10-6. It was as well played game as this year’s championships has seen. Lloyd was down 3-2 when, after the break he quickly ran it to 6-4 with three 14 darters and an 11-darter.

Number #2 Raymond van Barneveld had a scare when German Bernd Roith built a 7-5 with finishes of 101 and 141. Barneveld would then run off 5 on the trot for the win with one of those legs aided when Roith missed three at a double. Phil Taylor could have had a scare except he’s “Phil Taylor.” Andy Smith and Taylor were tied at 4 when Taylor won 6 of the next 7 for the 10-5 win. Taylor’s starting to heat it up as he averaged 106.16 for the match as compared to 90.39 for Smith. No wonder he wasn’t scared – he outscored his opponent by 16 every trip to the oche.

QUARTER FINALS

The oft-quoted Sid Waddell, calls darts “a funny old game.” He could also have added it’s a little fickle. Raymond van Barneveld found out how fickle when he went down to defeat to Wayne Jones 10-8 in the quarter finals. As in the previous round, van Barneveld fell behind but this time couldn’t play catch-up. Van Barneveld started with a 164-check to take the early lead which he would hold until Jones broke through at 3-2. At 7-6 Jones made the move going up 8-6 and then 9-7. Jones would get his 10th leg with a bull finish. Thank you very much. “It’s the first time I’ve ever beaten Raymond and it feels great.”

Colin Lloyd laid a scoring and doubles display on Ronnie Baxter to the tune of 10-7. Lloyd had the advantage in scoring average 101.63 to 88.84 while hitting doubles on 10 of 14 chances. Baxter had the lead 5-4 when Lloyd finished on 160 to level, then punishing 3 Baxter misses for 6-5, then next making 116 go away for 7-5. Baxter got it to 7-6 only to miss three more doubles to fall behind 8-6. Lloyd followed that leg with T80 and then double 16 for 9-6. Baxter’s last shot was a 146-check for 9-7 but it was too little too late. Hey the black shirt could only get him so far.

Terry Jenkins and Jamie Caven were locked at 6 when Jenkins produced a 161-finish to take leg 13 and a 7-6 lead. That lead would become 8-6 following a double 6. Caven made a great attempt in the next leg when he wired a double 10 on the end of a 140-close. The “Fat Lady” was singing. Jenkins now gets “sat in the chair” when the “The Power” is turned on facing Taylor in the semi’s. As is a familiar scenario, Taylor fell behind 0-2 to Mark Walsh then powering to a 10-4 win. For the three days work the loser’s in the Quarters will take home £7,500 which still beats the heck out of a 9-5 job. So quit whining.

THE SEMIS

There’s an old saying in vaudeville: “Never be the act to follow either kids or animals.” Both semis were knock down drag ’em out pier nine brawls so the final, which ended 11-1, didn’t really have a chance. Colin Lloyd, in his march to the semis, had taken out world #3 James Wade, then averaged over 100 in eliminating Michael van Gerwen and Ronnie Baxter. Wayne Jones eliminated world #2 Raymond van Barneveld. So both got no limousine ride to the semis. It was a match that went to the decider and in the end was decided by a missed doubles. An old story. Lloyd broke on top leading 3-1. Then missed a double for 4-1 but took two for 5-2. In the 8th leg Lloyd had a T80 and dart at double 11 to narrow his lead to 5-3. A 110 finish expanded the Lloyd lead to 6-3.

Six doubles missed by Lloyd would allow Jones, to level at 6 with the aid of 4 T80’s. Jones squandered a T80 in the next by missing double 18 to fall back 7-6. The two then traded legs for 8-7 Lloyd. When level, Lloyd missed 4 at the double while Jones converted for a 9-8 lead. Lloyd would return with a 104-finish and then double tops for a 10-9 lead. Jones answered with an 86-close to force a 21st leg. The final leg was one of those that “could go either way.” Jones tossed 140 leaving 61. Lloyd next nailed two triple 18’s, leaving 14, but missed the double 7. Jones knocked out 61 for a spot in the finals with an 11-10 win

Phil Taylor appeared to be strolling to a place in the finals when he opened a 9-6 lead over Terry Jenkins. After they were level at 4, Taylor opened up, leading 7-5 and 9-6. Jenkins then got three on the trot including a 122 bull finish against the darts to pull level at 9. Jenkins then missed the bull to take the lead allowing Taylor to use three darts to take out double 16 for a 10-9 lead. Jenkins tied it once again at 10 with a 71-close. Two things usually happen at this point: “Phil Taylor is Phil Taylor” and “The opponent isn’t.” Taylor led off with a 177 which Jenkins feebly answered with 21. Taylor then followed up with 82-137 to leave 105 which he took out with double 16.

The less written about the finals is probably best. Phil Taylor won it 11-1 which may not necessarily mean that Wayne Jones played bad. He was outscored 105.74 to 94.69 which, if you’re hitting doubles, is impossible to overcome. On the bright side, Wayne Jones gets a nice £20,000 pay day. For once the three-time PartyPoker.net European Champ wasn’t “over the moon.” “While the World Matchplay is one game a day, this is one of the hardest tournaments to win because you’ve got tough short matches early on and three games in one day to win it. You have to be mentally and physically fit as well as playing well and I loved every minute of it.” A win will do that for a guy.

ODC OVER THE MOON

The Old Dart Coach is pulling a Phil Taylor: he’s “over the moon” with an organization called the West Coast Darts Association (WCDA). Within the last month the ODC has bemoaned the fact that there are no PDC-style tournament in the USA. In steps the WCDA with a “pro” style tournament at Bozo’s Bandwagon in Fairfield California – a waterhole well known to the ODC as he used to play out of there back in the day. When his team left for greener pastures beer sales dropped precipitously. The date is August 14th with the tournament open only to the first 32 paid. The format is groups of 4, round robin, best of 11 legs, 501. More information can be obtained by calling Bob or Margaret Martell at 925-685-2405

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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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