The 5th Round of the UK Open in Bolton has thrown up arguably the most dramatic session of darts seen in the ten-year history of the event!
Raymond van Barneveld came back from the brink, Phil Taylor averaged 111, Terry Jenkins battled bravely, Wes Newton and Jamie Caven won thrillers, but there was heartache for Paul Nicholson and Joe Cullen.
And the quarter-final draws sees Taylor against Jenkins, Caven will play Ovens, Barney clashes with Dave Chisnall and Newton takes on Robert Thornton.
And in the semi-finals, Taylor or Jenkins will play Ovens or Caven, while it will be Barney or Chisnall against Newton or Thornton.
Barney looked down and out after missing 30 darts at doubles against Peter Wright.....he looked like throwing it away.
Despite hitting seven 180s, he was 6-8 down and facing defeat, because every time the Unicorn ace missed, Wright mopped up.
Barney held his throw to make it 7-8 and then came a quite astonishing moment....Wright needed 138 for the match....he hit T20, single 18 and need single 20 to leave himself ‘tops’ but amazingly he hit the T20 and bust his score.
The Dutchman hit ‘tops’ with the last dart in his hand to force the decider and won it with his fourth match dart at D12.
“I thought I was out,” he admitted. “I maybe wasn’t in the right frame of mind because I was sad after Holland lost at Euro 2012.”
He added: “I can’t believe that I missed so many doubles, but I had my slice of luck. When Peter bust 138, I thought this is my chance and I took it.”
It was a sensational finish.....and there were many more on Saturday night at the Reebok!
Wes Newton came from 4-7 down to snatch an absolute thriller against Kim Huybrechts....at that stage of the match, the Belgian was 7/7 on the doubles!
But that was only the start of the drama!
Newton got it back to 7-7 but Huybrechts broke to go within one leg of victory....back came the Unicorn star with a fantastic 11 dart leg to level it.
And the deciding leg was gripping tungsten tension....Huybrechts missed five darts to win and Newton missed six match darts, before he finally hit D5 to win a sensational game.
“I can’t believe that, I really can’t,” he said. “I knew I could win but I thought I had blown it. The pressure got to both of us, but that is probably the best D5 I have ever hit!”
Paul Nicholson though, will forever be wondering just how he failed to make the quarter-finals.
He was totally in control of his match with Denis Ovens, but somehow fluffed his lines.
Nicholson led 8-5 but missed 10 darts to win in the next three legs as the pressure got to him....he missed two to clinch a 9-5 win, then four more at D16 for a 9-6 victory and one at ‘tops’ and three at D10 to win 9-7.
Ovens simply couldn’t believe his luck....darting robbery but he won the decider, taking out 71 on ‘tops’.....Nicholson was inconsolable at the end. It can be a cruel sport....just ask Joe Cullen.
Caven’s resurgence continued in dramatic circumstances with that brilliant last leg victory over Cullen, but the Unicorn youngster will wonder how he lost!
Cullen was 4-0 in front and actually missed darts at ‘tops’ and D10 for a 5-0 advantage....he did make it 5-1 before the Caven comeback.
‘Jabba’ won seven out of the next nine legs to go ahead for the first time at 8-7.....Cullen held his nerve to force a decider when Caven produced one of the best finishes of his career!
It was nip and tuck.....Caven was on 160, Cullen on 140......but Caven sensationally nailed the 160 finish and he was into the quarter-finals.
Mixed emotions....Cullen was gutted, Caven was ecstatic. “That must be one of the best out shots ever!” he said. “I kept telling myself not to give up and kept grinding my way back into the match. I will also back myself and this tournament is doing my confidence no end of good. It is just what I need and I’m not finished yet!”
It’s Caven’s third ‘Major’ TV quarter-final....and his second at Bolton.
And what a performance from Terry Jenkins, who reached his 22nd TV quarter-final, coming from behind to edge out Michael van Gerwen 9-7.....
The Dutch youngster was 5-2 up, but he missed darts to lead 6-2 and 6-3 and ‘The Bull’ pounced. He reeled off five straight legs to snatch the advantage.
And a fourth 180 was enough to seal the win after more missed darts from Van Gerwen.
Phil Taylor stole the show with his numbers.....an average of 110.72 to beat Ronnie Baxter 9-4 in a match which featured 13x180s – seven of them from the Unicorn star.
Early on Taylor took out 149 and Baxter 156 and it just got better.
In one leg, both players were on a 9 darter after we saw four consecutive 180s from the pair! It was that good....Baxter averaged nearly 100 but he was no match for Taylor, who will be difficult to beat in this mood.
“I want this title!” he said. “That is the best Ronnie has played for a while, so I had to be at my best. Let’s see what Sunday brings, but I feel good.”
Elsewhere on Saturday night, Dave Chisnall hit seven 180s and averaged 102 as he reached the quarter-finals for a second consecutive year with a 9-5 win over Simon Whitlock.....the Aussie though, just missed D18 for a 9 darter!
Scot Robert Thornton has also reached the last eight for a second year running....he won eight legs on the spin to come from 1-5 down to beat Dennis Priestley 9-5.
5th Round results:
Michael van Gerwen 7-9 Terry Jenkins
Dave Chisnall 9-5 Simon Whitlock
Phil Taylor 9-4 Ronnie Baxter
Raymond van Barneveld 9-8 Peter Wright
Robert Thornton 9-5 Dennis Priestley
Joe Cullen 8-9 Jamie Caven
Denis Ovens 9-8 Paul Nicholson
Kim Huybrechts 8-9 Wes Newton
Sunday – Quarter Finals (best of 19 legs):
Wes Newton v Robert Thornton
Dave Chisnall v Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor v Terry Jenkins
Denis Ovens v Jamie Caven
Taylor/Jenkins v Ovens/Caven
Chisnall/Barneveld v Newton/Thornton
By STUART PYKE at the Reebok Stadium
Photo courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC