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Article: Below-Par Taylor Progresses On Opening Night

Below-Par Taylor Progresses On Opening Night


PHIL TAYLOR^S defence of the World Darts Championship title began in steady fashion at Alexandra Palace, overcoming American ace Gary Mawson in straight sets on Thursday night.

The 15-time World Champion will now return to London after Christmas for a potential second round clash with Canadian legend John Part, and admitted he will use his week-long break to put a below-par display behind him.

Taylor has hit two nine-darters during 2010 and a record televised average of 118, but failed to find that form against American ace Mawson, who had won through his preliminary round clash with Philippines^ Juanito Gionson earlier in the night.

"The most important thing was that I won, and I can put it behind me and get ready for the next round," said Taylor, who can now look ahead to Sunday^s BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards in Birmingham, where he has been nominated in the top ten.

"This was a tough game to prepare for but people will only look at the scoreline and that I won 3-0. The format gets longer in the second round and I can go and relax over Christmas and prepare myself for what lies ahead."

Earlier in the night, Paul Nicholson and Mark Webster made impressive starts to their challenges at Alexandra Palace by picking up straight sets victories over Steve Farmer and Steve Maish respectively.

Nicholson produced arguably his best performance since winning January^s Players Championship Finals with four ton-plus finishes against debutant Farmer, while Webster averaged 99 and dropped only two legs in defeating Maish.

Mark Hylton, though, made a dream debut on the World Championship stage with a 3-2 defeat of 1996 Lakeside Champion Steve Beaton.

Hylton, a former airline cabin manager from Rugeley in Staffordshire, led 2-1 before Beaton edged a tight fourth set, but came from a leg down in the decider to win three in a row in sealing victory and a second round contest with Colin Lloyd or Andree Welge.

Lloyd, the number nine seed, takes on the German number one on Friday when the first round continues, with Adrian Lewis playing Tony Eccles, Co Stompe meeting Peter Wright and Ronnie Baxter coming up against either Roland Scholten or Veijo Viinikka, who play in the preliminary round. World Darts Championship
First Round
Thursday December 16
Paul Nicholson 3-0 Steve Farmer
Gary Mawson 4-1 Juanito Gionson (Preliminary Round)
Mark Hylton 3-2 Steve Beaton
Mark Webster 3-0 Steve Maish
Phil Taylor 3-0 Gary Mawson

Friday December 17

Co Stompe v Peter Wright
Roland Scholten v Veijo Viinikka (Preliminary Round)
Colin Lloyd v Andree Welge
Adrian Lewis v Tony Eccles
Ronnie Baxter v Scholten/Viinikka


(3-0, 3-1, 3-2)
PAUL NICHOLSON opened up the 2011 World Darts Championship with a convincing straight sets victory over Steve Farmer at the Alexandra Palace.

Farmer was never allowed to settle on his debut at the World Championship as the 16th seed ended the match an impressive 82 percent checkout ratio, following arguably his best display since winning January^s Players Championship Finals.

Nicholson started the game with a 68 finish to win the opening leg and then broke throw to establish a 2-0 lead after Farmer missed five crucial darts at doubles.

Farmer got off the mark in the third leg but Nicholson wrapped up the set by hitting double four.

Nicholson started the second set impressively with a 13 dart-finish which was then followed by a 141 checkout to win the second leg.

The third saw Nicholson miss his first dart at a double in the contest, but he returned to the oche to land double nine to record a two-set lead.

The third set followed a similar pattern in the opening two legs as Nicholson recorded finishes of 73 and 116 to move one leg away from victory.

Farmer showed some fight in the next two legs, which included a fabulous 161 checkout to win the fourth and force a decider.

Nicholson held the advantage of throw and made that count by kicking off with a score of 137, and he sealed the match in style with a 140 checkout.

"To be honest it^s a big relief to win and put the match to bed," said Nicholson. "I had a bit of an edgy start but I settled a lot quicker and that^s a lot down to experience.

"Steve beat me in a tournament in Holland back in October, so it was a case of revenge for me tonight and I was really up for this.

"It^s all about getting through the first round and being able to get back after Christmas. There are a lot of positives to take from this match and my doubles were fantastic."


GARY MAWSON set up a first round clash with 15-time World Champion Phil Taylor later on the opening night after registering a 4-1 preliminary round victory against Philippines qualifier Juanito Gionson.

Mawson, who reached the UK Open final in 2008 won the opening leg with a two-dart 72 finish to settle any nerves on his World Darts Championship return.

The American number two then hit double 12 for the second time for a 2-0 lead before Gionson won the third by recording a 96 finish.

That appeared to give the Phillipines number one confidence as he kicked off the fourth leg with a maximum, only for the newcomer to miss two crucial darts at doubles to level the match, and Mawson cashed to move 3-1 ahead.

Gionson missed one dart at double top to keep the match alive in the fifth leg and Mawson stepped up to hit double three at his first attempt.


(3-2, 2-3, 3-2, 2-3, 3-1)
MARK HYLTON enjoyed a dream World Darts Championship debut with an excellent five-set victory over Steve Beaton.

Hylton led the match on two occasions only for Beaton to battle back and force a decider, but the man ranked 90th in the world came from a leg down to win the decider and seal a place in the last 32 after Christmas.

Hylton, a former airline cabin manager, travelled to Alexandra Palace with just appearances in one UK Open and the recent Grand Slam of Darts under his belt, but won the opening leg by hitting double five to make a steady start to the contest.

Beaton levelled on double two but Hylton regained the lead to win the third leg by recording a 90 finish.

Beaton, whose run to the semi-finals of last month^s Grand Slam of Darts included a win over Phil Taylor, took the fourth leg with the aid of a maximum but in the decider Hylton hit double ten with his last dart to win the set.

Beaton won the opening leg of second set with throw and had a dart to break in the second, but was off-target with his attempt at double 16 and Hylton stepped up to level.

The next two legs were shared to see the second set go to a deciding leg, which Beaton managed to win by hitting double five with a pressure last dart with Hylton waiting on a finish.

With the match evenly poised at one set all Beaton moved up a gear by breaking throw in the first leg and then hitting a second maximum in the next.

But he missed four darts at doubles to take a 2-0 lead in the set and Hylton made Beaton pay by hitting double ten to break back.

Hylton, August^s Australian Open Players Championship finalist, hit double nine to win the third leg and then put himself in pole position for the set in the next, only for missed doubles to allow Beaton to keep the set alive by hitting double eight.

Hylton held the advantage of throw in the deciding leg, and he managed to put the previous mistakes behind him to hit double 12 to regain the lead.

Beaton won the opening leg of the fourth set by hitting double eight, but Hylton soon took the second, which included his first maximum of the game.

Hylton banged in another 180 in the third leg and won it with a two-dart 72 checkout move one leg away from winning the match.

Beaton showed some class in the fourth by hitting a maximum and double seven to win the leg, and then hit a 177 to edge ahead in the decider.

Hylton pressured his opponent to leave tops but Beaton held his nerve to record a 75 finish, hitting double top with his third dart to force a deciding set.

The start of the fifth set saw both players hit maximums, and Hylton had opportunities to break only to miss four darts at doubles as Beaton stepped in to take an early lead.

Hylton recorded an 83 finish to level and then broke to win the third leg by hitting tops, pushing himself a leg away from victory for a second time.

The fourth leg saw Beaton miss four chances to force a tie-break, and Hylton recorded a superb 81 finish on the bullseye to secure an excellent win.

"I^m not surprised that I won the game but it was a topsy-turvy game and went both ways," said Hylton. "I^m probably more relieved than surprised but it^s fantastic.

"Steve^s a legend and to beat him is great, but it^s more that I^ve proven I can hold myself together and win under pressure, which was a big thing for me."

Beaton admitted: "I knew I was going to have a tough game but I missed some opportunities and let Mark back into the game. When it was 2-2, I took the first leg off him and it was all mine, but my mind started wandering, and I wasn^t consistent enough.

"For some reason I don^t seem to play well in the World Championship and it^s frustrating for me."


(3-0, 3-0, 3-2)
MARK WEBSTER produced a sensational display to defeat Steve Maish in straight sets in the first round of the 2011 World Darts Championship.

The Welshman, who finished an impressive third in his debut appearance at Alexandra Palace last year, ended the match with an impressive three-dart average of 98 in sweeping to victory.

Webster started the match with a maximum in the process of the winning the opening leg, and he soon doubled his lead by taking the next with a 13-dart finish.

Maish missed two chances at double 16 to get win the third leg and Webster hit double eight to seal the set with some ease.

The second set saw Webster continue his winning run as he broke throw in the opening leg by landing double five.

Webster hit tops to win his fifth consecutive leg and defied a 180 from Maish in the third leg to secure the set by taking out 120.

The former Lakeside Champion won the opening two legs of the third set, which included a 12-dart-finish in the first before Maish averted the dreaded whitewash by winning the third leg on double eight, and then took the next by hitting double one.

Any thoughts of a Maish comeback were ended after the Wigan based thrower missed a dart at double top and Webster took out 78 to move into the second round.

"Things were pretty comfortable for me tonight and I carried on the form that I showed in the World Cup of Darts," said Webster.

"Steve did give me a fright but I managed to come through that and I^m pleased with the performance. The aim was to go up there, win 3-0 and go home for Christmas and I came through it well."

Maish conceded: "Mark played absolutely superbly and I don^t think I did much wrong. If I had won the third set it could have been different because I^d have had the throw in the fourth, but Mark was brilliant and deserved to win.

"He^s playing superb and he^s going to go a long way in this tournament."


(3-0, 3-2, 3-2)
PHIL TAYLOR began his campaign to retain the World Darts Championship with a straight sets victory over Gary Mawson at Alexandra Palace - but admitted he was below-par despite the 3-0 win.

The defending champion, who defeated Simon Whitlock in the final 12 months ago, was never at his best and ended the match with a three-dart average of just 88 - 30 points per visit lower than the televised record he set six months ago in the UK Open.

It was, though, enough to see him through to the last 32 were he could potentially meet long-standing rival and three-time World Champion John Part.

"Gary wasn^t playing very well tonight and I couldn^t really get into any kind of form either," admitted Taylor. "I won^t dwell on tonight^s performance because a win^s a win.

"I will put that game behind me and get ready for the second round."

Taylor won the opening leg by hitting tops and took the second after Mawson missed one dart at bullseye.

The American hit a 64 finish to win third leg, but Taylor won the next with his first maximum of the game and a 106 finish to take an early advantage.

Mawson, who defeated Juanito Gionzon from the Phillipines in the preliminary round, hit a maximum in the opening leg of the second set, but it was Taylor who won it with a 121 checkout.

Mawson hit double one to level after missing a host of opportunities before Taylor regained the lead by taking out 66.

The fourth leg proved to be a difficult one to win for both players. Mawson missed five opportunities at doubles, but Taylor missed nine of his own and the American hit double one for the second time in the set to win the leg.

The deciding leg was a tense affair until Taylor hit a 174 to leave 32, which he duly took out with his first dart to seal the second set.

Mawson won the first leg of the third set impressively with the help of his third 180 of the match, before Taylor levelled by winning the second leg on double eight.

Taylor broke throw to win the third but missed two chances to win the match in the next and Mawson stepped in to force a decider.

Taylor missed two more chances to win the match in the fifth leg, but Mawson could not capitalise and missed four doubles of his own as the Stoke great ended matters by hitting double top.

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