Column #HR367 The SPOTTED OWL

Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Column HR367
The SPOTTED OWL

The Spotted Owl is an endangered species listed with the Bald Eagle.  The action to list the Spotted Owl was fueled by those who feared it would be pushed to extinction as logging expanded.  Most of these folks wouldn’t recognize a Spotted Owl if one bit them on the ass.  (The only owl they recognize is the “Night Owl” they married.)

A darter/hunter was arrested for shooting and killing a Spotted Owl.  He appeared in court.

“Did you shoot and kill a Spotted Owl?”

“Yes, your Honor.  It was a mistake.  I was hunting the Flighty Dickcissel.  I shot.  The Spotted Owl flew in front of my gun.”

“What did you do with the dead owl?”

“As a hunter/sportsman, I ate it.”

“What did it taste like?”

“A lot like a Bald Eagle.”

The Spotted Owl, like birds everywhere, survives in any environment.  Darts is the bird of sports.  Able to adapt.

Darts was sailing along – then, drunk driving laws turned draconian…

To deal with reduced revenue, pubs moved to machine darts.  Tournaments still flourished when hit by Covid.  In England, the demise of the BDO and strict driving laws caused concern – but the PDC rode to the rescue injecting new interest.

In North America, there emerged the Darts Players of (name a city – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles – “DP” is popping up everywhere) which presents a format for “serious players” that begat the Championship Dart Circuit.  The beating heart of darts are local leagues, the grass roots.

Rumors abounded that the World Dart Series’ trips to Australia and New Zealand (where men are men and sheep are nervous) would be made redundant.  Then, after the penultimate stop in Wollongong, the PDC announced, “We are happy with the crowds and will be back next year.”   The last stop was in Hamilton, New Zealand.  The question was, “Can Clayton win back-to-back?”

Prior to start of play, James Wade was quoted as saying, “Gerwyn Price is the nicest fellow in darts.”  Price responded by eliminating Wade in the first round 6-2.

Price then took out Dimitri Van den Bergh 7-4.  In that one, Price’s scoring allowed him to hit 7/19 doubles while limiting Van den Bergh to a mere 7 out shots.  Price found himself down 1-3 – then 4 legs of 15 darts and one in 12 rocketed Price into a 5-3 lead.

Clayton took down MvG 6-3, then Michael Smith 6-0, to reach his second final on the trot.  From 2-1 down, Clayton leveled in 11 adding a pair of wins for a 4-2 lead.  Price would reel off 4 in a row for the match as Clayton was denied doubles.

The Women’s Series was given a warning, “It’s up to the women, now show what you can do.  I need to see the same demand for places in the Women’s Series as there is for Q School applicants.”

The first stop, after the warning was in Hildesheim, Germany.  The numbers (139+) were below Tour Q School, but the tremendous quality of the women was unmatched – no doubt it was the best women’s field since 2020 (only absent was Fallon Sherrock who was busy losing Down Under).

The four event-two days series signaled the arrival of 18-year-old Beau Greaves into the PDC Women’s Series.  “AGINERS” had identified Greaves as ducking the PDC while racking up wins in the WDF where she resides as Numero Uno, and challengers are few and far between.

The criticism was unfair as most is.  Greaves answered those critics with a stupendous display of darting excellence equal to an exquisitely fine dinner of Kobe beef, fava beans and a fine Chianti with Jennifer Aniston.

Her performance was something to be savored forever or at least until the next time she lays a Snyder on her fellow competitors over a weekend (or Jennifer returns the ODC’s pleas).  Greaves got the “Hat Trick + 1”.

“+1”?  A coat to go with the hat.

Greaves won all four events while taking home £4,000 – to which a “rigid digit” might deservedly been added to her detractors.

How dominate was she?  Greaves would go 40-0 over the two days and 100-31 in legs won.  She saw only one lady, Lorraine Winstanley, with a match dart against her.  In the third event, #15, in the top 16 Winstanley wanted 119.  She got to one dart and 50 missing the center to leave 25.  So close, but a miss.

Greaves, in three of her four final wins, took advantage of Mikuru Suzuki 5-1, 5-2 and 5-3.  The 5-3 final was a barn burner with Greaves averaging 95.46 and Suzuki 92.22.  Of the eight legs played, 4 fell in 12 and 1 in 13.  Down 2-1, Mikuru Suzuki tossed a 12-darter of T40, T40, T – leaving 121 which she took.

Greaves took the lead (3-2) when Suzuki manufactured another 12-darter (T40, T, T80 – leaving 81 which went bye-bye) to level at 3.

Going first, Greaves constructed a 12-darter, closing 56 as Suzuki sat on her favorite 121.

The win came with a spectacular 12-darter that ended with a T61 finish of t20, t17, Red Bull.  Greaves final win came against Aileen de Graaf 5-3.

Greaves in 2022 as opposed to 2020 was Ying and Yang.  In 2020, events 1-4, she was just 15-years old.  Her best result was a top 8 where she lost to Joanne Locke 4-3.  Lisa Ashton got her 4-2 in the top 16, Lorraine Winstanley 4-2 in top 64 and Aletta Wajer 4-0 in the round of 128.

The addition of Beau Greaves and the return to form of “Miracle” Mikuru Suzuki was welcomed.  There was another that deserves mention – Japan’s Yukie Sakaguchi was a new face added to the mix.  The #4 ranked player in Japan, she caught the eye of the Old Dart Coach when she came from 0-3 down against Deta Headman to win 4-3.  He was impressed that she kept her “dauber” up (and the ODC’s also) down 0-3.

Like the Spotted Owl, Beau Greaves survived the Women’s Series 2020 to thrive in 2022.

There’s one more weekend, in October, for women to qualify for the Ally Pally.  Beau Greaves and Lorraine Winstanley will have to earn £1,801 more than Fallon Sherrock and more than each other to qualify for the World Championships.  Lisa Ashton has her place secured.

AND FINALLY… a former English top female player posted on Facebook: “So, I’ve started me packing for our Jolly Holiday.  Am I the only one who packs 30 pairs of nickers like I am gonna **** myself 5 times a day?”

With the hanging googly begging, a man hit it out of the park.  “My wife packs lots of knickers, but I use some for hang gliding.”  He then posted that the couch wasn’t that bad.

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.