Markers eye view from the UK Open Qualifier 5 Saturday 16th April 2011
The band wagon rolled on to the Metrodome in Barnsley. With many players playing knowing they needed some results to see them qualify for the TV stages in Bolton, this was sure to be a tense day.
Phil Taylor was in attendance which added to the tension with most players keen to avoid his board, I had a former World Champion on my board (my 3rd world champion in 2 weeks)
Matt Padgett 6-4 Andy Hodges
A funny game to be honest in which at certain times I would have said both players would go onto win. Matt won the bull but that advantage was soon lost as the first 3 legs all went against the throw and when Andy held to go 3-1 up I felt it was in his own hands. But as I eluded to earlier this was a game that followed no real pattern as Matt took 2 of the next 3 to reduce the deficit to 4-3 in favour of Andy. Andy then missed 5 darts to go 5-3 and on the brink of victory and left the door open for Matt who gratefully took his chance nailing 32 with his second attempt at it. Matt then produced the best leg of the game hitting a 12 darter checking out with 100,100,180,121 finish on the Bullseye. A clearly upset Andy then fell away a little allowing Matt to take the 10th and winning leg quite comfortably even though it took 19 darts. On a side note Andy failed to shake hands with me which is a bit of a no no as all markers are volunteers and as Tommy Cox (pdc tournament director) says a handshake is all the reward we want.
William O’Connor 6-4 Nigel Birch
The young Irishman has a big future of that there is little doubt in my mind and I have to say what a level headed young man he is. That being said Nigel more than played his part and took out 2 bull finishes 86 and 121 to hold his throw as the first 4 legs were shared. At this point William threw a superb 14 dart leg including something like his 9th or 10th 140 of the match so far to break the throw. Which in a match with only one break this was to prove vital. Nigel wasn’t about to give up and had a dart at a double in the 10th leg but after he missed William showed his composure to take out take out 56 and seal the match. Both players thanked me for my efforts and William stopped for a chat although with his strong Irish accent I couldn’t repeat what he said, although I’m sure it was all good as he was smiling when he said it.
Magnus Caris 6-4 Steve Maish
As the guys were warming up there was the polite round of applause (these closed shop events are very quiet compared to tv darts) that I have come to realise meant something very special had happened on the other side of the hall. Indeed it had with Red Dragon star Wayne Atwood hitting a nine dart finish and claiming the £3,200 rolling prize providing no one else would hit one !!!
This game was not so much won by Magnus as gifted to him by Steve. Steve set off like a train taking the first three legs in 15,14 and 16 darts and with 2 breaks of throw, this match was over or so I thought. In the 4th leg and again with Steve seemingly in control Steve hit a score of 45 to leave himself on a bogey finish and he got far to upset with himself and muttered “how to lose a leg in one easy lesson” which Magnus made sure was the case as he set himself up with tops and taking it out on his next visit. This for some reason clearly rattled Steve who then went to pieces for 3 legs and this seemed to spur on Magnus who was now into a comfortable rhythm and moved into a 4-3 lead. Steve rallied a little in leg 8 to level the match at 4-4 but he was still clearly upset and this allowed the big Swedish star to run out a comfortable if unlikely winner.
John Part 6-3 Michael Barnard
This was the first time I have marked for both these guys and I have to say two more contrasting players you couldn’t meet on the oche. John is quite chatty and when he does hit a bad score he’ll mutter to himself about how he needs to put it right or “that’s not good” and gets on with the game and throws at a really nice pace. Michael on the other hand is a very deliberate player but when he misses the target he chastises himself way too much. That’s my opinion of it but then again he’s the pro darter and I travel the country at my own expense to mark for these guys so maybe he has the right idea !! The game was a comfortable one for John who sailed through without really having to get out of second gear. John hung around for a minute or two after the game and had a chat . Gave me some advice about when I play and is a really nice guy.
Steve Evans 6-5 Matt Padgett
I didn’t know much about Steve before this game although I have seen him at the World Championships on tv before. I have to say he was as prolific on the treble twenty as anyone on my board all day and with a better success rate on the doubles would have won by a much more comfortable margin. Having said that the 6 legs Steve did take were won comfortably as I think Matt was very concerned about the money he needed to win to get to Bolton and this clearly affected his game. Pressure can do that to the best I suppose so I felt for the guy being as he is a first year pro.
William O’Connor 6-4 Magnus Caris
Although the score line would indicate a close game it wasn’t really the case. William broke the throw in the first leg of the game taking out 80 in three darts and held comfortably in the second. Magnus produced his best leg of the game 14darts to get on the score sheet and then broke back to level. However his joy was short lived as he then threw his worst leg of the game and allowed William to re-break leaving Magnus requiring over 200. William held to go 4-2 up and the remaining legs all went with throw with the Irishman holding on with relative ease, for the 6-4 win.
John Part 6-4 Steve Evans
This was to be the first of two very close tussles involving John. John won the bull and went 5 darts into a nine dart finish before narrowly missing the 6th treble twenty but held comfortably for a 1-0 lead. This was the stage when that tell tale round of applause was heard again. This time it was on the board next to me as Winmau’s Dennis Priestley had achieved a perfect game and thus taking half of Wayne Atwood’s £3,200 from him. Steve found his feet with a comfortable hold of his own before missing 2 darts to break John. This was a turning point as John immediately broke Steve with a fine 13 darter which included his 3rd 180. Steve was able to hold in leg 5 before again missing a dart to break John allowing his opponent to again hold by nailing double top with his second dart. This was to be Steve’s last clear chance to break John as the last 4 legs were shared as John recorded a 6-4 win and advanced to round 3.
3rd Round - John Part 6-4 William O’Connor
This game was played in the very best of spirits and both players threw excellent darts. The first 8 legs were shared with John always having the lead courtesy of winning the bull. 7 180’s were thrown 4 for John & 3 for William in a high quality game in which only the finishing letting the players down ever so slightly. In leg 9 John had hit a lovely 177 to leave himself tops which he missed 3 clear darts at (again he muttered “that’s not good ) and he was so nearly right as William came to the board requiring 148 and after two treble twenty’s was agonisingly close to breaking the throw as he wired double 14. John was not about to give William another chance and hit the tops he still needed to move within 1 leg of the match. It would take John a mere 14 darts to take the 501 points he needed although William had played a solid leg and only wanted 44 himself it was John that hit the 32 to seal the match and move onto round 4.
This was another day done for me and as I wasn’t required for a fourth round match. I moved over to the other side of the hall and watched Jamie Caven vs Richie Burnett which Richie won 6-4 and I have to say played very well indeed. Unfortunately for me time was now pressing as I was due to be at work still 100 miles away so I said my goodbyes and headed off....