It was one of the best finals in the history of the World Matchplay, but it was Phil Taylor who triumphed to claim an 11th Blackpool crown.
But what a performance from Raymond Van Barneveld, who proved that he is getting back to his best, but Taylor wasn’t to be denied.
“I am thrilled,” he said. “It’s difficult to describe how much this means to me. I am 50 next month and I have just won a big title. I am proud as punch.”
Barney was magnanimous in defeat but it still hurt. “I am nothing more than No.2” he admitted. “It’s been a great week but the truth is that I am only a No.2!”
It was a fabulous all Unicorn showdown in front of a sell-out 2,500 crowd at the Winter Gardens – a final fit for the first ever to be screened in 3D on Sky Sports.
“I love being the first to achieve things,” Taylor said. “To do this on 3D is another first that nobody can take away from me!”
But the Dutchman can hold his head up high. He averaged nearly 101 and enjoyed a 55 per cent check-out success rate, while Taylor’s end average was nearly 106 and he banged in nine 180s.
He also pocketed another £100,000, while Barneveld’s consolation is a cheque for £50,000
It really was a rip roaring final.
The first six legs all went with throw, as the two darting heavyweights traded blows on the Winter Gardens stage!
Leg No.7 produced the crucial first break…..Barney missed two darts to hold and Taylor pounced. He hit three 180s in four legs to open up a 6-4 advantage.
But Barney refused to buckle and he kept pace with ‘The Power’ – but Taylor hit Barneveld with two body blows in a crucial period in the middle of the match.
Taylor was 8-7 in front….Barney had left 24 to break the throw, only for ‘The Power’ to take out 105. Then in the 18th leg, the Dutchman had left himself 67 to break and Taylor nailed a terrific 135.
Brave Barney showed a lot of bottle though, as he did finally break Taylor with a 136 check-out and at that stage it was only 11-9.
It stirred Taylor into action. He broke back immediately and opened up a four leg advantage for the first time in the final.
From 15-12, came a ‘Power Surge’ to win the title….and a 9th maximum took him to one dart away from that history-making 11th World Matchplay title and he banged in D16….cue the celebrations!
Barneveld said: “I still have to be pleased with the tournament and the 9-darter but he was too good for me…..at the moment!”
You get the feeling the Dutchman is very close to finally beating Taylor again…..we shall see!
As for Taylor? Well, super-charged from ‘The Power’ and more glory and more silverware.
“It’s a tournament I love,” Taylor said. “And it’s a tournament that I love winning!”
Raymond van Barneveld 12 -18 Phil Taylor
Winner - £100,000
Runner-up - £50,000
By STUART PYKE in Blackpool (Twitter @stuartpykesport)
Photos courtesy Chris Sargeant