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Column #HR237 PDC World Matchplay – What a Difference a Day Makes!

Monday, July 23, 2018
Column HR237
PDC World Matchplay – What a Difference a Day Makes

The Old Dart Coach’s all-time favorite song is Dinah Washington’s “What a Difference a Day Makes.” It barely edged out “Who Left the Chewing Gum on the Bedpost Overnight,” “Mrs. Brown you Have a Lovely Daughter” and “I Gave Her the Ring and She Gave Me the Finger.”

The title “What a Difference a Day Makes” explains why dart players are just a few bubbles off center with elevators that don’t go all the way to the top and pilot lights permanently blown out. One day the triples and doubles are there for the taking. A day later three in any bed would be a darting accomplishment. It could drive a person to drink and thank you for that.

For the gentleman of the PDC this condition is doubly difficult to handle as their “problems” are magnified being played out on International TV. Those are the times when the “Tungsten God’s wife bakes a large portion of humble pie.” He’ll serve it to any and all.

Take “Gary, Gary, Gary” Anderson. He was gangbusters winning in Las Vegas. A week later he got served humble pie in Shanghai, losing in the opening round to “primarily” machine dart player Royden Lam 6-5. Lam, currently #3 in the DARTSLIVE soft point rankings, also earned a PDC players card via Q School. Anderson fell behind 3-nil due to a bundle of missed doubles, which are Anderson’s personal humble pie.

Lam would fall 8-5 to eventual event winner Michael Smith who dispatched Michael van Gerwen (8-4) and then Rob Cross 8-2 in the final.

There is no greater dart example of ‘What a Difference a Day Makes” (using the term “day” with a tad of poetic license) than is Rob Cross. Ian from Manchester, during play in Las Vegas spouted the truism, “In no other sport can a player go from a working man to world champion in a day.” Prior to last year’s World Championships Rob Cross was an electrician splicing “red to red and green to green” while making sure he didn’t get his wires crossed. Then he was crowned “Champion of the World.”

Cross has just a Players Championship win this year. He finished second in both Las Vegas and Shanghai but said, “I’m feeling happy with my game at the moment.” Really? You lost by combined scores of 16-6. Darts is also a “What have you done lately?” sport.

With the BetVictor £500,000 World Matchplay in progress there’s room for redemption. The Midsummer Classic, played out in Blackpool, is without defending champion Phil Taylor. He was in the commentary box the first night. He was Okay.

As most dart folks play the part of Captain Oblivious the big favorite to win was “Marvelous” Michael van Gerwen. As he’s won so many times this year most think he’s won everything but that’s not true. He holds only the Grand Slam. Daryl Gurney (Grand Prix), Rob Cross (World Champion), Gary Anderson (UK Open) and Mensur Suljovic (the Champions League title) hold the majors.

As a big favorite van Gerwen got a rude comeuppance as fellow “Wooden Shoe Guy” Jeffery de Zwaan sent van Gerwen packing straight away. With van Gerwen leading 6-5 de Zwaan nailed a 121-check to level. De Zwaan then reeled off four legs on the trot for the 10-6 win. making his record against van Gerwen this year 2-0. He beat him in March.

Possibly the only person happier than de Zwaan with the win was Adrian Lewis who got a 10-8 win over a “Choking” James Wilson. Wilson built a 7-3 lead but then couldn’t score. Lewis applied the coup de grâce with a 116 finish. While Lewis said, “I look forward to playing Michael van Gerwen,” he just might have been telling “porkies.” Instead, de Zwaan will be a welcome opponent – although sometimes getting what you wish for doesn’t turn out good.

Daryl Gurney advanced in the only match that went to extra time. He advanced with a 12-10 win over Steve West. In that one West missed 11 match darts. The “outsiders” didn’t fare well except for Joe Cullen who beat Gerwyn Price 10-3. Cullen had built a 5-0 lead going 4/6 on doubles. He finished it off with 170-out. Price may have an excuse as he undergoes Achilles surgery next week

Before the start of play “Gary, Gary, Gary” Anderson was quoted as saying, “I must be the only Scotsman that comes to Blackpool in the summer and doesn’t enjoy himself.” He was referring to the fact that he’d never won the Matchplay, although he made the semifinals twice. After a bit of a stumble Anderson got by Stephen “Family Guy” Bunting 10-7.

Mensur Suljovic had no trouble with Steve Beaton 10-6. He built a 6-2 lead on finishes of 120, 124 and 112. During that match John Part opined that Suljovic was difficult to play because of his “herky jerky” style. Rod Stud asked…

“Is that a dart term?”

Part answered…

“How about discombobulated?”

Both work just fine.

Other first round winners included Michael Smith (10-6 over Jonny Clayton), Darren Webster (10-6 over Steve Lennon), Ian White (10-7 over Max Hopp), Rob Cross (10-5 over Mervyn King), Dave Chisnall (10-4 over Keegan Brown) and Raymond van Barneveld (0-6 over Kyle Anderson). The first round concludes today.

In case you wondered how many 9-darters have been thrown in World Matchplay – and why wouldn’t you – there have been 7 with Phil Taylor tossing two including “the first ever nine dart finish to be broadcast live on UK television” in 2002. That of course is false as everyone knows the first TV live 9-darter was thrown by Leong Hwa (aka Paul Lim) against Irishman Jack McKenna in 1990 during the Embassy World Championships. Lim would earn £52,000 which was more than Phil Taylor got for beating Eric Bristow. Taylor got £24,000

As most every North American darter knows, Larry Butler won the first World Matchplay 16-19 over Dennis Priestley. That’s a given. How many know how much it paid and who Butler beat on his way to the title? He beat Steve Raw, Jerry Umberger, Jocky Wilson and Shayne Burgess. The win was worth £10,000. A little bonus information: he averaged 90.72 to Priestley’s 91.59.

Now everybody knows.

Former USA International Russ Lopez was speaking of a male darting friend who was, to put it politely, “feline whipped.” “She’s got the reins and he doesn’t want to change leads.”

Stay thirsty my friends.



  • Howie Reed

    Astute, often controversial, and always humorous, the Old Dart Coach, Howie Reed (a former rodeo cowboy and advertising executive), is heralded as the Dean of Darts Chroniclers - the most prolific and widely followed writer ever about our sport. He goes back decades with the legends and knows where the skeletons are buried (just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers!). Here are four well-known facts about the Old Dart Coach: 1) he is a Republican, 2) he loves the ladies, 3) he can drink most anybody under the table, and 4) he throws darts as bad as Dartoid.