Five-time UK Open winner Phil Taylor will not feature at the televised Coral UK Open Finals in Minehead next month, after choosing not to enter any of the six qualification events in Wigan.
‘The Power’ skipped the opening qualification triple-header at the Robin Park Tennis Centre last weekend, and the entries for the final three events, which take place this weekend; confirmed Taylor’s absence.
The 16-time world champion has significantly scaled down his Pro Tour involvement over recent years, and he revealed last month that 2017 would be his last year on the professional circuit.
Taylor missed out on the Players Championship Finals in Minehead last November, and that was the first TV major Taylor had missed in the history of the PDC. Nevertheless, given his reluctance to compete on the Pro Tour, the 56-year-old could also be set to miss out on the European Championship and Players Championship Finals later this year.
The UK Open has been dubbed as ‘The FA Cup of Darts’ due to its unique open-draw format. There are 32 places available to Riley’s amateur qualifiers, whilst PDC Tour Card holders and PDPA associate members are forced to compete in the six UK Open qualification events.
The top 96 players on the final UK Open Order of Merit will all qualify for next month’s event in Minehead, whilst the top 32 players will be afforded the luxury of entering the competition at the third-round stage.
Taylor’s absence will certainly be felt in Minehead. ‘The Power’ has competed in every UK Open since it began in 2003, and he won the inaugural staging with victory over Shane Burgess in the final. Taylor has also tasted victory on four other occasions; his last success coming in 2013, when he defeated his fellow Stoke star Andy Hamilton.
The 56-year-old has also registered four nine-dart finishes in the UK Open (2004, 2005, 2007 & 2008) – all of which came when the competition was hosted at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium. No player has hit more nine-darters in a single tournament than Taylor has at the UK Open, therefore this event holds special memories for ‘The Power’.
Despite this, the 16-time world champion has not enjoyed much success in this competition since it was moved to the Butlin’s Minehead Resort in March 2014. The furthest Taylor has gone during this three-year period came twelve months ago, where he suffered defeat to Van Gerwen in the semi-finals.
When questioned about his impending retirement earlier this year, Taylor cited the gruelling schedule and a lack of motivation as the catalyst behind his decision. He claimed: “Just to qualify for these tournaments, you’ve got to keep playing in little tournaments to qualify and players will be away for the whole weekend, but that’s what it’s like.
“It’s such a tough schedule and it’s proving too much for me now. I just can’t do it,” ‘he added. Fans heading to Minehead in the hope of seeing Phil Taylor lift a sixth UK Open title will ultimately be left disappointed, but the 16-time world champion has more than left his mark on this truly unique competition.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC