Column #HR37 The “Good Ship Taylor” is on the Prowl!
Sunday, February 27, 2011
The “Good Ship Taylor” is on the Prowl!
When it comes to sports TV commentators no one in the world can match golf’s David Ferriday. Englishman Ferriday, like those who saw the error of their ways hopping aboard the Mayflower, now resides in the USA. His knowledge of golf along with his brilliant sense of humor makes any of his golf broadcasts a true pleasure.
On Thursday last as he was working a PGA event from the Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles he remarked, “No one can say the players are making birdies out the ‘Old Wazoo’. Today most of them couldn’t find their “Old Wazoo” with both hands and a flashlight.” At the same time the eight Premier League players of the PDC had gathered in Nottingham for round two of 2011 play. Before a capacity crowd of more than 6,000 the players, unlike those competing at Riviera, had the equivalent of golf birdies coming out of their “Old Wazoos.”
The Old Dart Coach figures that 100 plus finishes are a “darters birdie.” On this night at the Capital FM Arena the big outs were falling like one pound notes at Senoritas “take it all off and sit on my lap” club on Redfield Way in Nottingham. It was an exceptional night of darts that saw the reemergence of Phil Douglas Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld as major players. For those interested in scores the night produced 8-4, 8-6, 8-5 and 8-4. With 51 legs played 14 of those produced 100 plus outs.
By far the most dramatic came when James Wade took out 136 for the 8-6 win over World Champion Adrian Lewis. Lewis had two darts at double 18 for the draw but came up empty. Wade, who has been known to fight his head on occasion, had blown a 7-4 advantage. Lewis had taken two in a row to move within one. So close and yet so far. Wade had 3 birdies of 141, 136 and 102. Lewis managed two of 100 and 121. Plenty of scoring in this one with 11-T80’s.
The evening opened when the “Friar Tuck” lookalike Raymond van Barneveld laid a good old fashion “whippin’” on Simon Whitlock. In all honesty, to be charitable Whitlock was horrid regardless of what one commentator said. “His darts are really good. They’re right there.” Bologna. Barney was spectacular with “birdies” of 116, 140, 156 and a final 141 in the last leg as Whitlock was waiting on 70 after a T80. The final of 8-4 really wasn’t that close even though Whitlock had one show of brilliance with a T40 out in the third leg to get off the snyder. How’d Barney like the night and the big finishes? “I loved that.”
Hard to break out the champagne and the party hats over Philip Douglas Taylor’s 8-5 win over Mark Webster. Not that his scoring wasn’t Taylor-like with 6-T80’s (three against the darts and two in the 4th leg) and a 177 set up. Taylor’s finishing was pedantic on a night when big outs ruled. He attempted 21 doubles hitting only eight. That aside, as the ODC says, “Never look a gift horse in the “Old Wazoo.” A “win is a win.” When Webster fell behind 0-3 he got rid of the goose egg with a 170-out. When Taylor, in leg eight, missed a bull out to leave 25 on the end of a 161-out Webster made 160 go away as Taylor produced a wry smile that said “WTF.”
Regardless, the Taylor of late last year and early 2011 seems to be gone but looks can sometimes be deceiving (as any bloke who has visited Thailand can tell you after chatting up what appeared to be a beautiful lady).
Gary Anderson moved to the top of the table with two wins after dispatching Terry Jenkins 8-4. Anderson would average over 102 which should have been higher except for a poor finishing rate of just barely under 50% with eight from 18. Anderson broke out to a 4-1 lead breaking Jenkins serve twice. Jenkins 102 stemmed the tide but only for a leg although he held after the break to get it to 4-3. Anderson then ran three on the trot to get within one. Anderson would close the night with a nifty 121 finish.
WHEN YOU’RE HOT YOU’RE HOT
The late “Dandy” Don Meredith use to say, “Old Mo just changed uniforms.” Jerry Reed sang “When you’re hot you’re hot and when you’re not you’re not.” Both were talking about momentum. Old Mo should probably be called Ms. Mo or at least “Declined to State Mo” as Mo is one fickle beast. Here one minute and gone the next. “Dance with the guy that brung ya” isn’t a rule for Mo. Any dart player at any level has had bouts with Ms. Mo.
Philip Douglas Taylor during play in the Premier League appeared to have gotten Mo back in a “Power Shirt” after an absence of some time. For reasons known only to the above named Philip Douglas Taylor he withdrew from the weekend Players Championship at the Moorways Leisure Centre in Derby. The name of the town is pronounced “DAR BE” as opposed to the civilized pronunciation of DER BE.” That’s the Brit’s for ya. The somewhat official PDC spokesman said, “He just withdrew. Wanted a rest. Nothing sinister.” Nor would the ODC suggest any.
Even without PDT the two-day Players Championships was a heck of an event. It marked the entry into the PDC of Las Vegas, Nevada’s Stacy Bromberg. She becomes the only lady on the tour now that the “Russian Fox,” Anastasia Dobromyslova, has scampered back to the amateur BDO circuit. Ms. Bromberg managed to win three legs over the course of two days. Paul Nicholson took her 6-2 on Saturday. On Sunday, newcomer Dave Chisnall handed her a 6-1 farewell. If you have nothing better to do you might want to mark down the name Dave Chisnall who is new to the PDC. He made it to the quarter-finals on Saturday losing to eventual winner Jamie Caven. On his way to another quarter-final on Sunday he took down Ronnie Baxter (6-1) and James Wade (6-4). Wes Newton got him in the quarters 6-4.
Al Gore’s Global Warming might be one explanation for the play of Australia’s Simon Whitlock. He falls in the category of “when you’re not you’re not” and he isn’t. He currently couldn’t find Mo with both hands and a flashlight. Whitlock started last year like gangbusters. This year he’s been a dud. He’s the only player in the Premier League without a point. He’s currently the number #1 seed for Players Championship events but that will change. The seeding is based on a yearly “rolling” Order of Merit system. After a first round bye on Saturday he was gone. On Sunday after another first round bye he managed one win, against TV commentator Wayne Mardle. Guess Simon heard Mardle say that his darts were “really good” so he proved it. Then out 6-1 to Michael Mansell.
It was a local guy Jamie Caven who took home the £6,000 first place loot on Saturday. He had to defeat World Champion Adrian Lewis in a final that could have gone either way early. With Caven up 4-2, Lewis was waiting on a finish when a Caven 170-finish persuaded “Mo” to change sides. The final was 6-2 and Caven’s fifth career win.
Nobody in the PDC has been colder that three-time world champion John Part from Canada. If he were to write a book it would be called “From the Penthouse to the Outhouse.” In just two short years Part has gone from the elite tier of rankings to #32.
Hindsight is always 20-20 as Irene Maude liked to say. It would be easy to write that John Part’s near 9-darter (he missed double 12) on Saturday was a sign that maybe his “Long Winter of Discontent” is over.” It’s doubtful that anyone except John Part had those thoughts.
Part was on an up note as it had been announced in Japan that he had received a sponsorship from COSMO darts and stuff. (Full disclosure is in force as the Old Dart Coach did get some flights and shafts from COSMO.) The fact that the ODC will accept bribes in no way effects this effort…
John Part was brilliant in winning the Sunday event. In the win his most difficult match came in the third round when he squeaked by Denis Ovens 6-5. Part took out Richie Burnett 6-0, Saturday’s winner Jamie Caven 6-2 and in-form West Newton 6-2 before laying the whitewash on Mark Walsh 6-0. Walsh could have won two legs when he missed a combined five darts in those legs. Still with legs of 12, 13, 14 (twice) and a 15 that be great darts. Part will have to wait until March 26-27 for the next Players Championships event in Crawley to see if Mo is still his.
HOME OF THE TITANIC
It’s a little known fact that the Titanic was launched on May 11, 1911 into the River Lagan in Belfast. Just think if there had been no launching there might be no Celine Dion. Hit the old fast forward button almost 100 years. You might find yourself in the crowd with 7,500-plus of your drinking pals at the Odyssey Arena for round three of the 2001 Premier League. The crowd in Belfast, like those at the 16th hole at the Phoenix Golf Open, was ready to hoot, holler, boo, dance, sing and cheer. The crowd delivered. The eight members of the PDC Premier League also delivered, though at times more like an exhibition at your local rather than at a serious dart contest.
Gary Anderson stayed at the top of the charts and still unbeaten with an 8-1 drubbing of Mark Webster. Andersons’ modus operandi is great scoring and double trouble. He was true to form and lived up to his billing. In the nine legs played Anderson had 7-T80’s but by only hitting eight of 27 attempts at doubles his scoring average was just under 100. The final score might have been different but Webster converted on only one from 11 doubles. The one Webster did hit was on the end of a 102-out. Anderson had the crowd in an uproar in the 6th leg when he opened with back to back T80’s. On his next trip Anderson missed the treble 20 and settled for a 12-darter. If he’d been playing the 16th at Phoenix the crowd would have given him the raspberry. Kind of disappointed in the crowd but then many were probably making drink runs, stopping at the loo or mugging for the TV camera. “I’m nervous as hell before every match.” ODC advice to Anderson: “Stay nervous.”
Simon Whitlock needed to launch his 2011 season as he was sinking fast. Belfast was a perfect spot as his opponent was booed lustily by the crowd from introduction until he left the stage an 8-5 looser. The crowd cheered Whitlock when he moved to a 4-1 lead early. Each miss by James Wade drew a roar of approval from the crowd. Each treble or double brought a boo. Wade for his part smiled and motored on. Following the break down 4-2 Wade had his way taking three on the trot including a 128-finish on the bull for 5-4 lead. His “disco dance” following the bull finish did not make him a candidate for Dancing with the Stars but did prove that white guys have no rhythm. At 5-4 two things occurred. Whitlock turned it on with 4-T80’s and Wade lost interest as he has want to do. One blogger wrote, “He’s taking the piss and my £20 is gone.” Only partially true as Whitlock showed what made him the man early last year. He had back-to-back T80’s, a 174 to leave 24 and he actually smiled winning 8-5.
The good ship “Barney” was launched last week so in Belfast van Barneveld had to see if it would stay afloat against reigning World Champion Adrian Lewis. Belfast’s dart public is well populated with members of “Barney’s Army.” It’s also home to other Army’s that best be not written about.
Lewis launched a torpedo in leg one with 174-180 in his first trips to the oche. Lewis didn’t get the 9-darter but did settle for an 11-darter for a 1-nil lead. Barney behind a 180 to level the score. One game after the break Barney had a 5-2 lead. That lead could have been 6-2 but Lewis hammered a 170-out for the leg and a £1,000 bonus for high finish as Barney sat on 16. At 7-3 down Lewis came back to force a decider. Barney tossed 140, 100 and 170 with a double 8 to seal the victory 8-6. “I’ve lost matches averaging 103 and more so it’s better to win by averaging less. I’m working hard and really looking forward to playing Phil Taylor next week.”
The crowd was waiting for Phil Taylor to deliver the “pièce de résistance.” They weren’t disappointed. Taylor delivered with a resounding 8-2 hammering of Terry “The Bull” Jenkins. After the match Taylor declared, “I’m ready to rule the world again.” In the words of football commentator Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend.”
Taylor’s doubles were again terrible even though his eight of 21 looks good. Looks can be deceiving. Jenkins, known for scoring in bunches, didn’t. He only had 1-T80 and very few 140’s in ten legs. Taylor was “Philip Alfred Mickelson-like” in setting up his doubles. For Mickelson it’s his shots from 160-180 yards out that define his game. On this night in Belfast it was Taylor “set ups” that made were eye-catching. Consider the following: 177 to leave 24, 139 to leave 76, 137 to leave 92, 137 to leave 40, 137 to leave 32.
That lady’s and gents that is world class. The “Good Ship Taylor” is on the prowl.
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