PHIL TAYLOR won his first Players Championship of 2011 with a 6-3 defeat of Michael van Gerwen in Saturday’s PDC ProTour event at Dublin’s New Citywest Convention Centre.
Taylor continued his build-up to the PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix, which begins at the same venue on Monday, by following up Wednesday’s Group Two win in Championship League Darts by taking the £6,000 Players Championship title.
The world number one defeated youngster Adam Hunt, Andy Smith and Paul Nicholson to reach the quarter-finals, where he took on Justin Pipe.
Pipe led 5-3, but Taylor hit back to level before winning the decider in 13 darts.
After seeing off Coventry’s emerging star Scott Rand 6-2, Taylor enjoyed a fine tussle with van Gerwen in the final.
The duo shared the first six legs, with van Gerwen hitting a pair of 14-dart finishes and Taylor taking out two legs in 15 darts.
Taylor made the key move in the seventh, with van Gerwen hitting three ton-plus scores to leave 93 after nine darts only to see his opponent follow scores of 140, 180 and 165 with double 16 for an 11-darter.
Taylor then bettered that with a superb ten-dart finish, courtesy of hitting scores of 140, 180 and 165 to leave double eight – although van Gerwen had missed the bull for a 132 finish for a 12-darter to hold throw.
The Dutch youngster hit a 180 in reply to kick off the ninth leg, but missed double top and ten to keep his hopes alive and Taylor punished him on double 16.
Van Gerwen’s display on the day saw him reach his first final since August 2010 in Canada, and he picked up £3,000 for his efforts, which could prove crucial in winning him a place in December’s Players Championship Finals and also nudges him back towards the world’s top 32.
Mervyn King won through to his first semi-final for five months after overcoming an elbow problem, with wins over Andy Jenkins, Kevin Painter, Ronnie Baxter and Nigel Heydon helping him into the last four.
Rand reached his third semi-final of the year, picking up victories over Roland Scholten, Wes Newton, Steve Beaton and Vincent van der Voort before losing to Taylor.
Pipe came from 5-1 down against John Part to dramatically win a place in the quarter-finals, taking out a 157 finish in the deciding leg to see off the Canadian for his sixth run to the last eight of the year.
World Champion Adrian Lewis, reigning World Grand Prix champion James Wade and five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld were all defeated in the first round, but will return to compete in a second Players Championship on Sunday.
Players Championship 21
Citywest Hotel, Dublin – Saturday October 1
Gary Anderson (1) Bye
Chris Aubrey 6-4 Paddy Meaney
John Henderson (32) Bye
Shaun Griffiths 6-0 Glen Fitzpatrick
Peter Wright (16) Bye
Steve Hine 6-5 Kevin McDine
Denis Ovens (17) Bye
William O’Connor 6-2 Paul Rowley
Jamie Caven (9) Bye
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Mark Frost
Steve Brown (25) Bye
Steve Maish 6-5 Steve Grubb
Mark Webster (9) Bye
Darren Johnson 6-4 Reece Robinson
Terry Jenkins (24) Bye
Peter Manley 6-3 Ali Powell
Simon Whitlock (5) Bye
Campbell Jackson 6-0 Ryan Harrington
Co Stompe (28) Bye
Nigel Heydon 6-0 Barrie Bates
Richie Burnett (12) Bye
Shane O’Connor 6-4 Mareno Michels
Alan Tabern (21) Bye
Gary Welding 6-5 Adrian Lewis
Ronnie Baxter (4) Bye
Ian White 6-3 Raymond van Barneveld
Wayne Jones (29) Bye
Chris Thompson 6-3 Geoff Whitworth
Kevin Painter (13) Bye
Arron Monk 6-2 Steve Evans
Mervyn King (20) Bye
Andy Jenkins 6-3 Matthew Edgar
Wes Newton (2) Bye
Adrian Gray 6-2 Brian Woods
Scott Rand (31) Bye
Roland Scholten 6-3 James Wade
Colin Lloyd (15) Bye
James Richardson 6-1 Mick Todd
Steve Beaton (18) Bye
David Coyne 6-3 Brendan Dolan
Mark Walsh (7) Bye
Joe Cullen 6-2 Kevin Dowling
Mark Hylton (26) Bye
Michael Smith 6-3 Michael Barnard
Vincent van der Voort (10) Bye
Peter Hudson 6-0 Manuel Croskery
Colin Osborne (23) Bye
Louis Blundell 6-4 Mark Dudbridge
John Part (6) Bye
Dave Smith 6-3 Wayne Mardle
Dennis Smith (27) Bye
Tony Eccles 6-2 Dyson Parody
Justin Pipe (11) Bye
Michael Mansell 6-0 Stefanie Luck
Dave Chisnall (22) Bye
Steve Farmer 6-3 Mick McGowan
Paul Nicholson (3) Bye
Magnus Caris 6-4 Adam Smith-Neale
Andy Hamilton (30) Bye
Jelle Klaasen 6-5 Kirk Shepherd
Andy Smith (14) Bye
Nick Fullwell 6-1 Matt Padgett
Phil Taylor (19) Bye
Adam Hunt 6-1 Tom Wiley
Gary Anderson 6-1 Chris Aubrey
Shaun Griffiths 6-2 John Henderson
Peter Wright 6-3 Steve Hine
William O’Connor 6-0 Denis Ovens
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Jamie Caven
Steve Maish 6-5 Steve Brown
Mark Webster 6-1 Darren Johnson
Terry Jenkins 6-5 Peter Manley
Simon Whitlock 6-3 Campbell Jackson
Nigel Heydon 6-5 Co Stompe
Shane O’Connor 6-4 Richie Burnett
Alan Tabern 6-3 Gary Welding
Ronnie Baxter 6-5 Ian White
Wayne Jones 6-2 Chris Thompson
Kevin Painter 6-3 Arron Monk
Mervyn King 6-5 Andy Jenkins
Wes Newton 6-2 Adrian Gray
Scott Rand 6-4 Roland Scholten
Colin Lloyd 6-4 James Richardson
Steve Beaton 6-1 David Coyne
Mark Walsh 6-5 Joe Cullen
Michael Smith 6-4 Mark Hylton
Vincent van der Voort 6-3 Peter Hudson
Colin Osborne 6-1 Louis Blundell
John Part 6-5 Dave Smith
Dennis Smith 6-4 Tony Eccles
Justin Pipe 6-5 Michael Mansell
Steve Farmer 6-4 Dave Chisnall
Paul Nicholson 6-5 Magnus Caris
Andy Hamilton 6-5 Jelle Klaasen
Andy Smith 6-2 Nick Fullwell
Phil Taylor 6-2 Adam Hunt
Gary Anderson 6-4 Shaun Griffiths
Peter Wright 6-2 William O’Connor
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Steve Maish
Mark Webster 6-3 Terry Jenkins
Nigel Heydon 6-5 Simon Whitlock
Alan Tabern 6-4 Shane O’Connor
Ronnie Baxter 6-5 Wayne Jones
Mervyn King 6-4 Kevin Painter
Scott Rand 6-4 Wes Newton
Steve Beaton 6-5 Colin Lloyd
Mark Walsh 6-4 Michael Smith
Vincent van der Voort 6-4 Colin Osborne
John Part 6-4 Dennis Smith
Justin Pipe 6-5 Steve Farmer
Paul Nicholson 6-1 Andy Hamilton
Phil Taylor 6-1 Andy Smith
Gary Anderson 6-3 Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Mark Webster
Nigel Heydon 6-1 Alan Tabern
Mervyn King 6-5 Ronnie Baxter
Scott Rand 6-3 Steve Beaton
Vincent van der Voort 6-3 Mark Walsh
Justin Pipe 6-5 John Part
Phil Taylor 6-3 Paul Nicholson
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Gary Anderson
Mervyn King 6-3 Nigel Heydon
Scott Rand 6-3 Vincent van der Voort
Phil Taylor 6-5 Justin Pipe
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Mervyn King
Phil Taylor 6-2 Scott Rand
Phil Taylor 6-3 Michael van Gerwen
Final – leg-by-leg
Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor
0-0 – Phil Taylor wins the bull and will throw first
0-1 – van Gerwen hits three ton-plus scores to leave 96 but misses double eight and Taylor returns to finish 90 on double five.
1-1 – van Gerwen again opens with three ton-plus scores, and finishes double six for a 14-darter to level.
1-2 – Taylor hits his first 140 of the game but, under little pressure, hits tops to win the third.
2-2 – Taylor lands a 180 to set up a 167 finish, but is unable to convert and break throw as van Gerwen finishes double 16 for another 14-darter.
2-3 – Taylor hits scores of 140, 140 and 180, and even though van Gerwen lands a maximum in reply he has enough cushion to miss four doubles before hitting double eight.
3-3 – Taylor opens with a 180 but misses a dart at tops to break before van Gerwen returns to level by hitting the same bed.
3-4 – Taylor hits an 11-darter to regain the lead, landing scores of 140, 180 and 135 before landing double 16 to deny van Gerwen a dart at a 93 finish he had set up with nine darts.
3-5 – Taylor finally breaks, with van Gerwen’s heavy scoring continuing before he misses the bull for a 132 finish for a 12-darter, only to see Taylor finish double eight for a brilliant ten-dart leg, set up by scores of 140, 180 and 165.
3-6 – van Gerwen opens with a 180 and also hits a 140, but misses double top and ten to keep the game alive before Taylor follows up a 140 with double 16 to secure victory.
Final Averages: Michael van Gerwen 101.67, Phil Taylor 104.28
CULLEN COMPLETES PDC UNICORN YOUTH TOUR TREBLE
JOE CULLEN won his third PDC Unicorn Youth Tour event of the year, edging out Michael Smith 4-3 in Saturday’s final at the New Citywest Convention Centre in Dublin.
The Bradford-based 22-year-old continued his emergence as a star of the future with some classy performances to pick up the £600 first prize.
He dropped only three legs in the early rounds, defeating Michael Meaney, Marco van Rens and Adam Hunt before then enjoying a 4-0 semi-final whitewash over Youth Tour Order of Merit leader Michael van Gerwen.
Cullen opened the final with a 14-darter to break Smith’s throw, and even though his opponent hit a second 180 of the game in leg two Cullen doubled his lead on double 15.
Smith landed a third maximum before getting off the mark on double 12 in the third, although Cullen missed three darts to edge further clear before winning the fourth on double eight after the St Helens ace this time faltered.
The pair traded 180s in the fifth, with Cullen missing the bull for victory before Smith returned to hit double ten.
Cullen missed a further four match darts in the sixth as Smith landed tops to level and force a decider, only to then miss a match dart of his own before the Yorkshireman cleaned up 61 on double 18.
Smith’s display took him to his third final of the year, which accompanies his nine-darter in Event Two in Barnsley and a UK Open Qualifier victory as he again impressed.
The St Helens ace – who along with Hunt is under the wing of Premier League Darts champion Gary Anderson – had to fight all the way in 3-2 wins over Reece Robinson, Ireland’s John Seagrave and Adam Smith-Neale to reach the semis – hitting a 140 against the latter to win the deciding leg of their quarter-final.
Smith also defeated last weekend’s Youth Tour winner in Holland, Paul Barham, 4-2 in the semis as he picked up the £400 runner-up prize.
Van Gerwen followed up his run to the final of Saturday’s Players Championship by taking home £200 as a semi-finalist alongside Barham, while Irish duo Ryan Maher and Paddy Meaney joined Hunt and Smith-Neale in the quarters.
Further PDC Unicorn Youth Tour events will be held in Killarney and Gladbeck this month ahead of the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship, which will be held on Friday November 4 at the K2 Centre in Crawley.
Entry costs €25 and can be made by calling the PDC Head Office on 08712 501 180 during office hours.
PDC Unicorn Youth Tour Event 13
New Citywest Convention Centre, Dublin – October 1
Glen Browne Bye
Adam Smith-Neale 3-1 Chris Aubrey
Michael Smith 3-2 Reece Robinson
John Seagrave 3-1 Mike Nissen
Ryan Maher 3-0 Oisin Daly
Brandon Jones 3-0 Jelle Muller
Paul Barham 3-0 Arron Devine
Jack Hill 3-0 Ryan Harrington
Marco van Rens 3-2 Ryan Herrington
Joe Cullen 3-1 Michael Meaney
Arron Monk 3-1 Co Stompe Jnr
Adam Hunt 3-2 Spencer Murphy
David Coyne 3-0 Daniel O’Donnell
Paddy Meaney 3-1 Stephen O’Neill
Michael van Gerwen 3-2 Shaun Griffiths
Stephen Mooney 3-2 Curtis Reeves
Adam Smith-Neale 3-2 Glen Browne
Michael Smith 3-2 John Seagrave
Ryan Maher 3-1 Brandon Jones
Paul Barham 3-1 Jack Hill
Joe Cullen 3-1 Marco van Rens
Adam Hunt 3-1 Arron Monk
Paddy Meaney 3-1 David Coyne
Michael van Gerwen 3-1 Stephen Mooney
Losers €27.50 (£25 to Order of Merit)
Michael Smith 3-2 Adam Smith-Neale
Paul Barham 3-2 Ryan Maher
Joe Cullen 3-1 Adam Hunt
Michael van Gerwen 3-2 Paddy Meaney
Losers €110 (£100 to Order of Merit)
Michael Smith 4-2 Paul Barham
Joe Cullen 4-0 Michael van Gerwen
Losers €220 (£200 to Order of Merit)
Joe Cullen 4-3 Michael Smith
Winner €660 (£600 to Order of Merit)
Runner-Up €440 (£400 to Order of Merit)