Raymond van Barneveld recorded a comprehensive 9-3 victory over defending UK Open Champion Adrian Lewis on day one in Minehead, whilst World Champion Gary Anderson, Michael Smith, Terry Jenkins and Simon Whitlock were also early casualties.
The World’s top two Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen progressed in routine fashion, although doubts have been cast over the Dutchman’s fitness, after he sustained an elbow injury in his 9-3 victory over a struggling Paul Nicholson.
Lewis and van Barneveld was the stand-out last 64 tie; van Barneveld gained revenge for his 9-2 last 16 defeat against Jackpot in last year’s competition, with a clinical display of finishing and a 100 average. Lewis scored superbly, hitting 7 180’s, but frailties on the doubles cost him dearly and the 47-year old Dutchman took full advantage.
Taylor beat amateur qualifier John Ferrell 9-2, but Ferrell, a World Championship quarter-finalist in 1999, put up an excellent fight, hitting 11 140’s, but Taylor was unrelenting, averaging 103 in a confident display. The five-time UK Open champion will take some stopping this weekend.
Van Gerwen was very unconvincing against Paul Nicholson, but the Asset was blatantly lacking in confidence. The 25-year-old’s average was a modest 90; his game gradually deteriorated leg-on-leg, but he was always in control against Nicholson.
Elsewhere, Stephen Bunting and Mervyn King both survived match darts from Michael Smith and Gary Anderson respectively, but King was particularly fortunate. Anderson led 8-4 at one stage, but squandered 13 darts for the match, allowing King to step in and hit D16 with his last dart to claim an improbable victory.
Michael Smith and Bunting were involved in a high-quality contest on board-two. Bunting was fresh from his Premier League victory over Lewis on Thursday evening, whilst Smith was in confident mood after his impressive start to 2015. Smith appeared in control of the match for the vast majority, but two missed darts at D20 allowed Bunting to snatch victory on D5, to set up an all-St-Helens clash with Dave Chisnall, who beat Ryan Harrington, son of Rod, 9-6 in a tenacious tussle.
Whitlock’s Misery Continues
Simon Whitlock’s miserable run in major tournaments continue. He suffered a 9-5 defeat to Robert Thornton in the last 64. The Wizard has seemingly lost his magic; his defeat against the Thorn marked his eighth successive first-round exit in major tournaments. Missed doubles cost the Australian dearly, although in fairness, he was unfortunate in drawing Thornton, one of the most consistent campaigners on the tour.
One of the most surprising scorelines from the opening day was Andrew Gilding’s 9-0 whitewash over Kevin Painter. The Artist performed well in beating Scotland’s Jamie Bain 5-2 in round two, but Goldfinger, who I tipped as a potential darkhorse for the tournament, was obviously in uncompromising mood.
Last year’s finalist Terry Jenkins suffered an early-exit against Jamie Caven. Jabba won in emphatic fashion, beating the man from Herefordshire 9-3. Caven edged the head-to-head record between the pair prior to the contest, and continued his positive start to 2015 with an excellent win.
Kim Huybrechts carried his impressive Premier League form into his 3rd round match against Max Hopp; The Maximiser performed admirably, but Huybrechts found an extra-gear in the latter stages of the contest; his switching on the T19 was particularly impressive, helping him to a 9-7 victory.
Elsewhere, there was a fine win for Peter Wright over Steve Beaton; Snakebite put his feud with MvG behind him, beating the ‘Bronzed Adonis’ 9-5, hitting 10 180’s in the process. Vincent van der Voort also justified his darkhorse tag, reeling off 8 successive legs in beating Lee Evans 9-4, whilst Jelle Klaasen continued his recent resurgence, beating Brendan Dolan by the same margin.
Ian White survived an excellent comeback from Christian Kist in recording a nail-biting 9-8 victory. White led 5-0 at one stage, but the former Lakeside Champion produced some superb darts to reduce the arrears. Andy Hamilton also scraped through a last-leg decider, beating Aaron Turner to set up a meeting against Kim Huybrechts.
Former BDO men James Wilson and Jan Dekker enjoyed excellent days. Wilson beat Mark Frost 5-0 in round-two, before comprehensively dispatching of Ricky Evans 9-4. Jan Dekker defeated the aptly named Mike De Decker 5-3 in round two, before claiming the scalp of Justin Pipe; beating the Force 9-5 in round three.
However, Robbie Green and Alan Norris struggled in their first PDC major. Green averaged just 82 and was whitewashed by Stuart Kellett in round one, whilst Alan Norris lost 9-6 to Kyle Anderson in round three. The Australian won five successive legs to ‘chuck’ Norris out.
Paul Hogan, Nathan Aspinall and Nathan Derry all enjoyed excellent days. Hogan, who had an excellent tournament in Minehead last year, won three matches in the afternoon session, before disposing of talented Dutchman Benito van de Pas 9-6 to seal a Last 32 spot. He has the unenviable task of facing van Gerwen today, although question-marks remain over MvG’s potential elbow injury.
Aspinall was involved in a high-quality contest against Chris Dobey in round two, averaging 98 to seal a fine victory, before beating James Richardson 9-4 in the last 64. Aspinall will face former UK Open Champion James Wade in the fourth round; Wade has gone under the radar thus far, but eased to a 9-3 victory over Joe Murnan, who has been in fine form recently.
Another youngster Nathan Derry, sponsored by Peter Wright, edged out Alan Tabern 5-4 in round two, before causing a major upset in thrashing Keegan Brown 9-2 in the third round. Brown was admittedly out of sorts, averaging a miserly 75.
Luck Of The Irish for O’Connor
William O’Connor also enjoyed a fine day. He’s been performing consistently well on the tour recently and was rewarded yesterday. He rode his luck in beating Dean Winstanley 5-3 in round two, before comfortably beating Mark Webster 9-5 in the last 32. Webster has returned to form recently, so that’s an impressive scalp for the Irishman.
One of the more disappointing elements of the opening day was the performance of the legendary John Part, in his 5-2 defeat to Mike Zuydwijk, protégé of Raymond van Barneveld. Zuydwijk is a fine young prospect, but Part was particularly erratic, missing the board entirely at one stage, when aiming for the single 18. The three-time World Champion is desperately struggling for form, and there are fears that his days on the main stage could be numbered.
The action continues today; the stand-out last 32 ties are both all-Premier League clashes; as Raymond van Barneveld faces Peter Wright, whilst Stephen Bunting meets Dave Chisnall.