The Masters - Taylor & Thornton Edge Through
TAYLOR & THORNTON EDGE THROUGH IN MASTERS OPENERS
PHIL TAYLOR and Robert Thornton both overcame scares before winning through to the quarter-finals of The Masters in Edinburgh, as Michael van Gerwen ended the hopes of home ace Peter Wright on the event's opening night.
World Champion Taylor booked his spot in Saturday's last eight with a hard-fought 6-3 defeat of Terry Jenkins as the £160,000 event began at the Royal Highland Centre.
Taylor opened their contest as he hit a 143 finish to complete a 12-dart leg before doubling his lead, only to see Jenkins - a seven-time major finalist - take out 120 in winning the next three legs to move 3-2 up.
Taylor, though, steadied the ship by winning the sixth leg with a 85 checkout, before taking the next three without reply to move into a quarter-final clash with Wes Newton.
"I'm really happy to have won that because it was as tough as I'd expected," said Taylor. "We've had a few games like that in the last few months where it's been nip and tuck, and Terry's a great competitor.
"If you're not at your best he can bite you and I was probably aware of that at times, so it's a relief to get through. That's the nervy game out of the way, because it's a bit of a sprint in the first round, and I can relax a bit on Saturday night now."
Thornton, meanwhile, overcame some dodgy doubling to win delight the Scottish crowd and see off Andy Hamilton 6-4 in their first round contest.
The Ayrshire ace had had seemed set to crash out of the £160,000 event at the Royal Highland Centre as a string of missed doubles allowed Hamilton to move into a 4-3 lead.
Thornton, though edged a nervy eighth leg before moving ahead 5-4 when Hamilton lost his range on double top and ten, and when the Stoke ace missed his chance to stay in the contest in the next leg, the home favourite hit tops to secure victory.
"I wasn't at my best there but I got the result," admitted Thornton, who was backed by a partisan Scottish crowd. "I was quite relaxed coming into the tournament, even being on home soil, but it didn't quite happen and I'm just relieved to win.
"The crowd helped me a lot and gave me great support, and hopefully I can give them a bit more to cheer during the rest of the week."
World number two Michael van Gerwen denied West Lothian-born thrower Peter Wright a dream Edinburgh debut as he picked up a 6-2 victory from their clash.
Wright shared the game's opening two legs, before van Gerwen pulled clear by taking the next four without reply, taking out a superb 136 finish in the process.
The Scot hit back by finishing 125 with a showpiece bullseye, outer bull, bullseye combination, but van Gerwen finished 87 on the middle double in the next to complete a high-quality win with a 103.47 average.
"I'm very happy with that," said van Gerwen. "Peter has been playing some unbelievable darts in the last couple of months and you always need to prepare well against him - and I didn't think I played as well as I did.
"The 136 came at the right moment and the 87 for the match was superb, and I hit my shots at the right moments - but I think I can do even more in the next game."
Van Gerwen now plays Dutch rival Raymond van Barneveld in the last eight, after the five-time World Champion enjoyed a 6-3 win over last month's World Grand Prix finalist Dave Chisnall.
Van Barneveld took three of the game's first four legs, and though Chisnall hit an 11-dart as he came back to level, the Dutch star produced legs of 14, 14 and 13 darts to pull through.
"I was really happy with the last three legs and it's a good win because Dave's been in great form, especially in the World Grand Prix," said van Barneveld. "I'm relaxed and looking forward to playing Michael on Saturday.
"We've had so many great matches in the past and this will be good too. I've put myself under too much pressure in the past, but I just want to go out and enjoy my game, which I'm doing."
World number four Simon Whitlock set up a quarter-final date with seven-time major winner James Wade as the pair saw off Mervyn King and Kevin Painter respectively to progress.
Whitlock came from 4-3 down to defeat Mervyn King 6-4, capping a strong display with a 112 finish to take the victory, while Wade showed his class with a gutsy 6-5 win over Kevin Painter, who led 4-2 at one stage but never had a dart for the match.
Fleetwood's Wes Newton was another 6-5 winner as he overcame Justin Pipe in a see-saw game, which saw the Taunton ace hit back from 3-1 down to lead 4-3 at one stage.
Newton hit an 11-darter as he levelled and then moved 5-3 up, with Pipe forcing a decider by completing a 13-dart finish only to see his opponent hit a 180 and double top to claim the win.
European Champion Adrian Lewis was another player to come through an 11-leg thriller in a brilliant contest against in-form Kim Huybrechts, whose hopes of claiming a tournament victory for a third successive weekend were ended with a 6-5 loss.
The game proved a rarity with neither player able to break throw throughout 11 pulsating legs, with Huybrechts missing two darts at tops to win the deciding leg before falling to defeat despite an average of 106.43 as Lewis defied a bout of 'flu to progress.
Friday November 1
James Wade (5) 6-5 Kevin Painter (12)
Wes Newton (8) 6-5 Justin Pipe (9)
Andy Hamilton (6) 4-6 Robert Thornton (11)
Simon Whitlock (4) 6-4 Mervyn King (13)
Adrian Lewis (3) 6-5 Kim Huybrechts (14)
Phil Taylor (1) 6-3 Terry Jenkins (16)
Michael van Gerwen (2) 6-2 Peter Wright (15)
Dave Chisnall (7) 3-6 Raymond van Barneveld (10)
Saturday November 2 (6.45pm)
James Wade v Simon Whitlock
Robert Thornton v Adrian Lewis
Phil Taylor v Wes Newton
Michael van Gerwen v Raymond van Barneveld
Best of 15 legs
James Wade v Kevin Painter
1-0 - Wade finishes 80 on tops to win the game's opening leg.
1-1 - Tops sees Painter level with his first dart at a double.
2-1 - Wade hits double ten with his third dart at the bed to edge back in front.
2-2 - Painter hits a 180 to leave 44, and lands tops to level again.
2-3 - Wade misses tops for a 104 finish, and Painter lands double ten to break throw and move ahead.
2-4 - Painter moves two legs clear by taking out 79 on tops.
3-4 - Wade posts a maximum to leave 40, and hits tops for a 13-darter.
4-4 - The left-hander levels by taking out 80 on double ten.
5-4 - Wade wins a third consecutive leg as he moves back into the lead, landing a 177 and finishing double five.
5-5 - Painter finishes double two to send the game into a decider.
6-5 - Wade opens the deciding leg with a 180 and is first to a finish, initially missing four match darts before returning to take victory on double two.
Wes Newton v Justin Pipe
1-0 - Newton finishes 65 to win the game's opening leg.
1-1 - Pipe levels with an 88 checkout to break back.
2-1 - Newton takes out 29 to move back ahead with a third break of throw.
3-1 - Pipe hits a 180, but Newton holds throw with a 60 finish to move two legs clear.
3-2 - Double 12 sees Pipe hit back.
3-3 - Newton is unable to set up a double when needing 83, and Pipe returns to finish double two to break and level.
3-4 - Pipe takes out 76 to win a third straight leg and move ahead.
4-4 - Newton hits a 180 in an 11-darter to level.
5-4 - Newton lands tops to break and move a leg away from the win.
5-5 - Newton misses match darts at double top and ten, to take out 97, and Pipe finishes tops for a 13-darter to force a deciding leg.
6-5 - Newton scores 140, 180 and 126 to be first to a finish, against the throw, and though he initially misses two match darts as he bursts his score on 55, Pipe is unable to finish 160 and the Fleetwood ace returns to hit tops for victory.
Andy Hamilton v Robert Thornton
0-1 - Hamilton fires in a 180 in being first to a finish, but misses four darts to take the opening leg as Thornton hits double two to break throw.
1-1 - The roles are reversed in leg two as Thornton hits a maximum but misses his chance to double his lead as Hamilton capitalises on double 16.
2-1 - The pair trade 180s in the third leg, but the nervy finishing continues as Hamilton returns to land tops to move in front.
2-2 - Thornton takes out 70 on tops to level in leg four.
3-2 - Hamilton finishes a third-dart double 16 to edge back ahead.
3-3 - Double nine sees Thornton square the match once again.
4-3 - Hamilton opens the seventh leg with a 180 and then hits tops - with his third dart - to regain the edge.
4-4 - Thornton is first to a finish, and opts not to throw for the bull on a 167 finish, instead leaving tops - as Hamilton hits a 180 to leave 111. Thornton then misses three darts at double top, ten and five, only for Hamilton to miss double 16 to break, and the drama continues as the pair miss a further three darts each to win the leg before double two sees the Scot level.
Simon Whitlock v Mervyn King
0-1 - King finishes 121 on the bull for a 12-darter to take the opening leg.
1-1 - Tops sees Whitlock level the contest.
2-1 - King is off-target on double 12 and six, allowing Whitlock in to break throw.
2-2 - The tables are turned as King capitalises on Whitlock's misses by finishing 81 on double six.
2-3 - Whitlock hits a 180, but King posts double 16 to move back ahead.
3-3 - King lands a 180 but misses the bull for a second 121 checkout of the game, and Whitlock takes out 85 on tops to level.
3-4 - King takes out 86 in two darts on double 16 to move back in front.
4-4 - Whitlock hits a 168 score to leave 16 as he squares the contest once more.
5-4 - Double 18 sees the Australian move back ahead.
6-4 - Whitlock takes out 112 to secure his quarter-final place.
Adrian Lewis v Kim Huybrechts
1-0 - Lewis makes a brilliant start by taking out 156 to win the opening leg.
1-1 - Huybrechts levels by taking out 100 on double ten.
2-1 - Lewis opens with a 174 score, but Huybrechts lands two 180s in reply, only to miss double 16 as Lewis hits the same bed for a 14-darter.
2-2 - Huybrechts finishes 81 on double 12 to square the game again.
3-2 - Lewis hits a 180 and finishes double eight for a 13-darter, with the pair both averaging 114 in a superb contest.
3-3 - Huybrechts lands a 180 and hits double 12 to level once more, with neither player able to break throw.
4-3 - Lewis takes out 74 in two darts on double 16 to take the seventh leg.
4-4 - Huybrechts hits double eight to hit back once more.
5-4 - Lewis finishes 70 on tops to move a leg away from the win.
5-5 - The Belgian forces a decider by pinning double 16 - maintaining a 108 average in the process.
6-5 - Huybrechts hits two 140s, with Lewis missing the bull for a 170 checkout only for the Belgian to miss two darts at tops to finish 97 - allowing the Stoke ace in to take victory on double eight.
Phil Taylor v Terry Jenkins
1-0 - Taylor hits a 180 and finishes 143 on double 16 for a 12-darter to open the game.
2-0 - Double ten sees Taylor move two legs up.
2-1 - Jenkins initially misses tops for a 105 finish, hitting double five, but returns to land double 15 to hit back.
2-2 - Jenkins levels the match by breaking throw with a 120 finish.
2-3 - Jenkins wins a third successive leg as he moves into the lead.
3-3 - Taylor levels by finishing 85 on tops.
4-3 - Taylor regains the lead, finishing 76 on double 14.
5-3 - Double 16 sees Taylor win a third successive leg to move one away from victory.
6-3 - Taylor misses the bull to finish 130, but Jenkins misses two darts at double 18 and one at double nine to allow the World Champion in on double four to seal the win.
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
1-0 - Double nine gives van Gerwen the opening leg.
1-1 - The pair trade 180s before Wright levels on double four.
2-1 - van Gerwen hits a maximum and double ten to win the third leg.
3-1 - Wright posts a 180, but can only watch on as his opponent powers in a 136 checkout to move two legs clear.
4-1 - van Gerwen opens with a maximum and finishes double 18 to a three-leg cushion.
5-1 - The pair trade 180s as double top puts the Dutch ace a leg away from the win.
5-2 - Wright takes out a showpiece 125 finish of bullseye, outer bull and bullseye to hit back.
6-2 - van Gerwen seals victory by taking out 87 on the bull.
Dave Chisnall v Raymond van Barneveld
0-1 - Chisnall misses tops in the opening leg, with van Barneveld taking out 76 on double 18 to win the opener.
1-1 - Chisnall finishes 60 on tops to level the game.
1-2 - Chisnall this time misses double 18 for a 95 finish, and van Barneveld takes out 88 on double 14 to move back in front.
1-3 - van Barneveld punishes further missed doubles as double ten puts him two legs up.
2-3 - The pair trade 180s before Chisnall finishes 84 on double 12 to hit back.
3-3 - Double five sees the World Grand Prix finalist level the game.
3-4 - van Barneveld regains the lead by finishing double ten for a 14-darter.
3-5 - Double 16, for another 14-dart leg, sees the Dutch ace move to the brink of victory.
3-6 - van Barneveld hits a 180, and when Chisnall misses two darts at double 12 to stay in the hunt, double four puts the five-time World Champion into the quarter-finals.