Column #HR61 Merry Christmas… and don’t hit on a chick named Holly with an Adam’s apple!

Friday, December 23, 2011
Column HR61
Merry Christmas… and don’t hit on a chick named Holly with an Adam’s apple!

‘Tiz that time of the year when we join together to sing at the top of our baby voices, “Deck the halls with balls from Holly.”

Balls from Holly?

Well yes, as Holly use to be Bruce. Go figure.

It is indeed Christmas time for the gentlemen of the PDC as they embark on the quest for a chunk of the £1 million up for grabs at the World Championships. With that event underway and as we read this, some players have received a few presents before the Big Event.

Gun Tso Sun Tan’Gung Haw Sun! YEA BABY!

That’s what Leon Hea was screaming when he took home a nifty ONE MILLION Hong Kong dollars ($128,000) for his win in the first World Soft-tip Championship at the “iDarts Club” in Hong Kong. North American’s fared well as they filled three of the top four spots. Canada’s Chris White and USA’s Ben Dersch joined Japan’s Sho Kateuni in the semi’s. Reaching the final four earned White and Dersch $12,849. Leon Hea beat Kateuni in the finals. As the runner-up Kateuni took $38,597 back to the Land of the Rising Sun and the falling Yen. Losing in the round of 8 to Kateuni was Canada’s Big John Part who had to juggle this event with playing in the £1 million World Championship in Merry Ole England on December 21.

For Leon Hea, while not the culmination of a career it was certainly one of the high points. Some may remember he tossed a televised 9-darter back in 1990 at Lakeside splitting the £52,000 bonus money with his playing partner. There are in darts, like all sports, a goodly collection of jerks. Leon Hea isn’t one of them. He’s a true gentleman-sportsman who is everything that’s good about the sport.

The list of Chinese-Singapore comedians is not extensive. Regardless Leon Hea has a favorite joke. He tells the joke about a Chinese man who gets a job in a warehouse. He’s put in charge of supplies. The problem is that no one seems to ever see him at work. He’s a ghost. His boss goes looking for him one day. He looks high and low but his search goes for naught. Finally, giving up, the boss rounds a corner. The oriental gentleman jumps out from behind some boxes yelling “SURPRISE.” As mentioned the list of Chinese-Singaporean comedians is not long.

Hope that Leon Hea yelled “SURPRISE” when he took the championship. He might also have said “Gun Tso Sun Tan’Gung Haw Sun.”

Yes, it is a very “Merry Christmas” for Paul Lim and his family. Chalk one up for one of the good guys.

WASHED UP… HAS BEEN… PUT HIM TO BED

The march of the washed up Phil Taylor continues as he showed his backside to the best the PDC had to offer at Wigan. For the weekend he danced away with the £12,000 and yet another “How about that fellows?” Since the report of his demise he’s gone through the PDC like a corn through a seagull. “Look up in the air it’s a bird… it’s a plane… SPLAT… it’s a seagull.” Rocket Ronnie Baxter got drilled 6-1 on Saturday, although in a familiar scenario Baxter did have a chance to level at 2. On Sunday Taylor had Justin “Meerschaum” Pipe just where he wanted him. Taylor was down 4-2 then pounced to win 6-4.

PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP

On the road to the World Championships was the £250,000 Cash Converters Players Championship at the Doncaster Dome. A slight time out here. Has anyone noticed that the names of PDC Tournaments are becoming more like NASCAR and or college bowl games? Now if we could get the company that makes the Poulan Weed Eater into darts we could have “The Poulan Weed Eater American Professional Championships brought to you by Miller Genuine.” What a dandy that would be.

The PDC has succeeded where others have failed in having the ability to find viable sponsors. The Old Dart Coach likes to tell the story, actually he likes to tell any story, of traveling to England to play in the British Open. He and partner Phil Jones would lose in the pair’s to John Lowe and the late Barry Twomlow. The BDO was having trouble finding a sponsor so Mr. Lowe stepped in to deliver a paint company. As part of the agreement the winner of the singles got two gallons of paint. The ODC thought, “This is the flipping British Open? Two gallons of paint!” He then sighed, saying, “be still my beating heart” not for the first or last time.

Time in. Back to the Players Championship.

This could well have been the warm-up for the Ladbrokes World Dart Championship, not to be confused with your run of the mill World Dart Championship which by-the-bi is held at the Lakeside by the reorganized BDO. Although the ODC thinks it’s a lot like the old BDO as they don’t answer his e-mails. The sound you hear is the ODC sobbing into his 10th Miller Genuine of the day.

The field for the Players was filled with the usual quality including Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld, John Part, Gary Anderson, and James Wade. Conspicuous in his absence in the run for the £60,000 first place cash payout was reigning World Champion Adrian Lewis. He failed to be included as he was not among the top 32 money earners for the year’s Players series. As an always in demand World Champion he has the difficult task of formulating a schedule – whether to play in a Players event or do an exhibition where the money is guaranteed. As the reigning World Champion Lewis’s or his manager should be taken to the woodshed for a proper hiding. To be MIA for a TV event is unconscionable. Whoops – sorry for the big word. Let’s try stupid.

When John Part is good he’s really good. Then there are times when he’s not. The Players Championship was one of those “not” times as he went out first round 6-0 to Wayne Jones. Phil Taylor found himself down 4-1 to Terry “The Bull” Jenkins, coming back to win 6-4. In the second round Raymond van Barneveld tossed seven 180’s but lost to newcomer Scott Rand 8-6. Just a reaffirmation that “you score for show and finish for dough.”

Phil Taylor in the same round found himself down 3-1 to Mervyn “Always A” King. Unlike his last two events Taylor didn’t stage a comeback losing 8-5. Scott Rand continued his giant killing ways taking out James Wade 9-5. Quietly moving through the field was Kevin “The Artist” Painter. Painter’s move brought him into a face-to-face with the red-hot Scott Rand. Rand would jump into a 9-6 lead over Painter in the semis but failed to hit 2 darts at double 16 for the win. Rand banked £15,000 which, as the ODC says, is “not too Chablis” for the lorry driver.

The win propelled the 44 year old Painter into a televised final for another chance at major hardware to say nothing of a really big win. His last chance came in 2004 when he lost the World Championship to one Phil Taylor on a sudden death final leg. Painter’s opponent was Mark Webster who disposed of Wes Newton 10-7. Webster would lead 3-2 which turned into a 6-4 lead for Painter which he would never relinquish winning 13-9. Webster would bank £24,000 in his first televised singles final. Painter would hoist the hardware and a check for £60,000.

THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

It’s possible that defending World Champion Adrian Lewis had his mind elsewhere as he found himself down 0-2 in the race to 3. Lewis averted the upset winning 3 on the trot for the win. The ODC’s pals “Rocket” Ronnie Baxter and Denis “The Heat” Ovens both exited stage right in the first round. Baxter went out 3-2 to Steve Farmer while Ovens had to withdraw with a severe back problem. Ovens is one of those professionals who works full time and plays full time. “I love the game,” he told the ODC while sipping a cool beverage.

The first big upset at the Alexandra Palace saw Raymond van Barneveld sent packing by the 85th ranked player in the world, James Richardson, by a shocking 3-0 (3-2, 3-1, 3-2) score. That score is even more shocking as Barneveld took a 2-0 lead in the first set before the bricklayer from Rushden put the trowel to mortar to begin building his winning wall. Last year’s almost world champion, Gary Anderson, found himself down 2-nil against German Jyhan Artut and on the verge of being home from Christmas with no darts to play. The Flying Scot was this far (“–”) from suffering the agony of “de feet” which the ODC has along with soreness of the ankles. Anderson lost the first two sets 1-3, 1-3 in the race to 3 sets. He then reversed the score – 3-1, 3-1 – to draw even in sets. The final set (if the match is tied at 2 sets all) must be won by two clear legs ‘till it gets to 5-5, then it’s sudden death. Got that? There will be a test on this later. Tied at 5 Anderson won the honors to throw first. He took advantage of 180 and a 76 finish on the bull to move into the second round.

While there were many players who distinguished themselves in round one Scott Rand stands out. He took 9 straight legs to take out Andy “the Pie Man” Smith 3-nil. The lorry driver first appeared on the scene with his top four finish in the Players Championships. A former creditable youth player Rand didn’t play for 17 years. He can flat-out play! The round of 32 commenced on the Thursday before Christmas with Adrian Lewis a winner into the top 16 in the quest to defend his title.

A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM THE ODC

It’s not just the members of the PDC that mean darts. It people like Bob and Maggie Martel that keep darts alive in Northern California. It’s old timers sitting around sharing a brewski while singing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” It’s for those all over the world that have laid the ground work for the sport. It’s the most exclusive fraternity in the world that anyone can join. All it takes is “want to.” Whether you’re Phil Taylor or Joe Blow if you play darts you’re in the club. That makes you something special.

When the Las Vegas Open hits town on January 28-30 at the Tuscany Hotel Casino it’ll be a get together of old friends meeting up with new friends. Maybe sharing a story and maybe even some “aiming fluid” to jog a foggy memory.

Colin Cowherd of ESPN radio has some advice for those coming for the Vegas tournament: “Never hit on 17 or a chick named Holly with an Adam’s apple.”

But above all have a very Merry Christmas and always “Stay thirsty my friends.”

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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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