Yes, yes, OK, Phil “The Power” Taylor, you’re the best darts player there has ever been, we KNOW this. He’s still looking unbeatable, which is odd considering how much Barrie Bates pushed him last night in their first-round match. But no matter what happens to Taylor on the big stage, you always kind of expect him to pull something magic out of the bag. Taylor beat Bates 10-6; Paul Nicholson, winner of the Players’ Championship, lost to Steve Beaton 10-3; Colin Lloyd totally bottled it to lose to Kevin Painter 11-9 after having been 8-2 up; and Mark Walsh beat the ever-charming Mark Dudbridge 12-10, despite a scare himself as Dudbridge came from 5-0 down to 10-9 up.
Raymond van Barneveld returned to action tonight and revealed in a pre-match interview that he’s always tormented himself with his ambition to be like Phil Taylor, and his primary reason for returning to darts after his break has been the fans – “they want me and I want them”. It was another strong performance from him tonight, 13-5 against the valiant Alan Tabern. Two other Dutchmen were in action as well, with Co Stompe beating Mark Webster 13-9, and Vincent van der Voorte going out to James Wade 13-10. Ronnie Baxter was also eliminated, losing 13-9 to Wayne Jones.