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Article: Canadian gears up for shot at fourth title

Canadian gears up for shot at fourth title

The Canadian Press

John Part has carved out a nice little niche for himself in the world of professional darts, and as a three-time world champion claimed a spot among the game^s elite.

Only three other players have won three or more world titles -- Phil Taylor (13), Eric Bristow (five) and John Lowe (three) -- and with a victory in the 2009 edition that opens in London, England tomorrow, the Oshawa native known as Darth Maple would take sole possession of third spot all-time.

Yet the 42-year-old dismisses any notion of making a run up the charts to improve his standing in the darts pecking order. The way Part sees it, the gap is so wide between Taylor and the rest of the field that how things shake out behind the English star doesn^t really matter.

"It^s not really an issue, you could never hold yourself as a player in darts near to him, really,^^ Part said in a recent interview. "It^s a best of the rest syndrome, I suppose, so I^m not trying to do anything like that.

"Maybe that characterizes me. More the giant-killer than the giant.^^

Still, Part heads into his opening match versus American Bill Davis in the 2009 World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace as the tournament^s defending champion and one of the few players to have had any success against Taylor.

While Part has certainly taken his lumps from The Power, he can also take credit for ending Taylor^s run of eight consecutive world titles by beating him 7-6 in the 2003 final, described by the Times of London as "beyond doubt the greatest match in the game^s long and sometimes checkered history.^^

Being a New York Jets fan, Part likes to see Taylor as the nearly invincible New England Patriots teams of recent years and himself as an underdog struggling against the titan. That^s why his 2003 title is the one he cherishes most and why he^s hoping this year^s draw plays to form and he meets Taylor in the semifinals.

"That was quite satisfying, because no one had beat him at that distance for a while,^^ Part said of the victory. "I don^t think anyone will come along and have as much success as he^s had and is continuing to have.

"He^s still as good as ever and he^s looking for a 14th world title. For me, I think it^s kind of fun to try and stop that. If I get a chance to play him, I^d relish that.^^

Of course looking too far ahead in the 70-player field would be foolish at a tournament where 740,000 pounds ($1.39 million Cdn) are on the line, and Part has worked hard on improving his focus at such big events.

Hitting the mark with the cameras rolling and the pressure on isn^t easy.

"It^s not letting yourself psych yourself out,^^ Part said.


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