The new glasses will take some getting used to but Phil Taylor is off and running at the Grand Slam!
He was wearing the glasses for the first time in competition and he struggled a little bit but was still far too good for an out-of-sorts Michael van Gerwen.
Incredibly, Taylor missed 17 darts at doubles in six legs and averaged only 89!
“Believe it or not, I can see more clearly,” he said. “The glasses aren’t that strong and yes, they will take some getting used to but I am just glad to win.”
He also revealed that he may also have minor surgery to improve his eyes. “I am looking at maybe having laser eye treatment and later this month, I am going to see the same surgeon who did the eyes of Jonathan Edwards and Sir Steve Redgrave.”
He missed six darts to win the opening leg, which Van Gerwen pinched and continued to miss doubles but his opponent just wasn’t at the races.
And despite being below par, Taylor won five legs on the spin as he chases that 4th Grand Slam crown.
There was a terrific all Unicorn clash between Paul Nicholson and Arron Monk, which went all the way to a deciding leg, before ‘The Asset’ managed to edge a crucial victory.
Incredibly all nine legs went with throw, so in the end, Nicholson winning the bull in the practice room was vital.
Nicholson took the opening leg with a 111 finish but credit to youngster Monk, who pressurised throughout. In fact the third leg was the closest of the match….Nicholson hit a 180 but it was Monk who missed two darts to break the throw.
It continued to be nip and tuck and a cool 67 check-out from Monk set up a nail-biting deciding leg, which could have gone either way…..in the end, Nicholson hit bull, D16 for a terrific 82 finish, with Monk sat waiting on 60.
Not surprisingly, Raymond van Barneveld made a comfortable start in the all Unicorn clash against Ladies World Championship runner-up Tricia Wright.
It was always going to be very difficult for Tricia. She did have darts to win the fourth leg but missed D16 and D8 and Barney nailed D3. But there were smiles all round and it was a great experience for her to be on the Grand Slam stage playing one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.
There will be a lot more to come from Barneveld, who averaged only 86. He won it on ‘tops’ and it was a case of job done for the Dutchman.
But in Taylor’s group, Wes Newton now faces a massive task if he is to qualify for the knock-out stages. He has been in such good form but the Unicorn ace just couldn’t get it together against ted Hankey.
And despite the obligatory boos from the crowd, Hankey got the job done. Realistically, Newton will now have to beat Taylor and Van Gerwen if he wants to qualify from the group.
‘The Count’ was 3-1 in front and actually missed four darts for a 4-1 lead. It gave Newton a little impetus and he managed to level at three legs apiece, before Hankey seized control. An 80 check-out gave him the seventh leg and a second 180 set up the match dart on D10.
Adrian Lewis, who has a wretched Grand Slam record, got off to the worst possible start, as he was stunned by veteran Martin Phillips, who is making his Wolverhampton debut.
Lewis has twice failed to get past the group stage and will now need to win his other two games against Scott Waites and Co Stompe.
It was quick-fire stuff….the first five legs were all won against the throw, as Lewis hit two 180s and a 128 finish. But the Unicorn star was too erratic and Phillips looked at home on the Grand Slam stage!
The 50-year-old reeled off three consecutive legs to take the match, including a 101 check-out to win it and to leave Lewis deflated.
In Sunday afternoon’s other matches, last year’s Grand Slam runner-up Waites won a thriller against Stompe, in a match which saw the Dutchman come from 0-4 down to force a decider, which Waites eventually took on D9.
Colin Lloyd hit a 170 finish on his way to a 5-4 win over Darryl Fitton…..it was another high quality affair, with Fitton taking out 150 himself before missing one dart at tops to win the decider, before Lloyd took out D8.
Meanwhile in Nicholson and Monk’s group, Ronnie Baxter recorded a comfortable 5-2 win over Steve Beaton.
Results – Sunday afternoon:
Co Stompe 4-5 Scott Waites
Adrian Lewis 2-5 Martin Phillips
Colin Lloyd 5-4 Darryl Fitton
Raymond van Barneveld 5-0 Tricia Wright
Paul Nicholson 5-4 Arron Monk
Ronnie Baxter 5-2 Steve Beaton
Wes Newton 3-5 Ted Hankey
Phil Taylor 5-1 Michael van Gerwen
By STUART PYKE at the Grand Slam
Photo courtesy Chris Sargeant