Darts Betting: Re-born Power bids for first world title in three years
Phil Taylor is in great form on and off the oche, practising hard and desperate for a 14th world title. Over a bottle of red wine, David Croft spoke to the former toilet handle maker from Stoke about rivals, retirement and Robbie Williams.
"How many people do I think have a chance of winning the title? Including myself?" asked the voice on the end of the line.
"Including yourself" I replied.
"About two or three, although there are good players and some dangerous players but only two or three who could win the title this year"
A bold prediction but when you^re Phil Taylor you have 13 previous world titles and Mexican mines worth of silverware to back up your claim. Nobody has won more in Darts than the former toilet handle maker from Stoke and the bad news is that this year not only is he in outstanding form but he^s practising harder than ever before to make sure he takes the title back.
It^s been nearly three years since Phil won the world title and I think that stat is starting to hurt him a little bit. We spoke at the launch of the PDC World Championship this year and then on my BBC London 94.9 show the following night and reflected on a year in a which we^ve witnessed the re-birth of The Power.
Phil admitted to me that 12 months ago he wasn^t right, not fit enough, not practising enough, and doing too many exhibitions. However, defeat to Wayne Mardle was still a big shock, as was the Premier League loss to James Wade in his first match and then in week four of the competition the result that sent shockwaves around the darting world: Peter Manley 8 Phil Taylor 3.
It was a huge upset and so unexpected that Manley made the mistake of taking home the matchboard as a memento, not before asking Phil to sign it first though. That, according to Phil was a big error because it was at that moment that he decided to change his game, change his darts, and change his ways. Never again, would Peter Manley, or any other player; be in a position to ask for a signature after a big win. He was going to get back to the top, sooner rather than later.
And so it transpired that The Power went onto to win the Premier League, The Desert Classic, The World Matchplay, The US Open and The World Grand Prix. Victory at Alexandra Palace will not so much confirm his status as the number one in the PDC ranks as prove a gentle reminder of what we are already aware of.
It was interesting that as they spoke to the media at Tuesday night^s launch Phil was full of jokes and smiling from ear to ear whilst James Wade, probably his nearest rival in the PDC ranks, looked far from confident, a man who could sense that maybe he was about to enter into a world championship where he and the rest were playing for second place, a scenario which matched the years between 1995 and 2002 when Phil was at his most dominant.
I asked Phil about the moment when he might decide to give up the game. The good news for the rest of the field is that he is definitely not a man prepared to make up the numbers, when he feels he isn^t good enough to enter a tournament and win, he^ll call it quits. The bad news is that Phil doesn^t think that moment is just around the corner.
He has worked on how to change his game to make it better - I^m not sure even Nick Faldo would have done that after winning as many titles as Phil - not just for this year^s world championship but for the future as well.
He^s not playing to guarantee he has the money to enjoy retirement. Phil isn^t dominated by money but he knows he has enough stashed away so that he and his family are comfortable. He^s playing and searching for more titles because that^s the way he is. He can remember the days when he had nothing and that spurs him on, even when he is sitting in Robbie Williams^ lounge listening to the Stoke crooner belt out his favourite songs.
Phil Taylor on and off the oche is on good form going into the world championship and it was a pleasure to share a bottle of red with him and talk Darts. He^s priced at 1.63 with Betfair to win a 14th world title, too short a price you say? Yes, but he^s too good a player at the moment to ignore.
And as for those two players that might be able to stop him. Phil thinks and knows that Ray van Barneveld at 11.5 has to be taken seriously and that Andy Hamilton has the ability to spring a surprise at 60.0, and what a ^Hammer^ blow that would be.
Story By: Betting @ Betfair