Phil Taylor’s dream of reclaiming the UK Open crown was shattered in a dramatic final as Robert Thornton produced the performance of his life to claim his first PDC ‘Major’
Taylor had no complaints as he lost for only the 6th time in over 70 TV Finals, with Thornton winning 11-5 to take the title and a cheque for £40,000.
“Robert was brilliant and I take my hat off to him. I missed far too many doubles and that was that.”
In fact Taylor missed 25 darts at doubles in the final, which was interrupted when a man tried to get on the stage, but was stopped by security staff.
“I was very worried,” said Taylor. “But it is no excuse. Robert was the best player and he thoroughly deserved the victory.”
It just wasn’t Taylor’s night.....the five other occasions he has been beaten in a TV Final were at the World Championship against Dennis Priestley, John Part and Raymond van Barneveld, in the World Darts Trophy by Gary Anderson and the World Masters in 1991 by Rod Harrington.
In the semi-finals, Taylor demolished Denis Ovens 10-2, while Thornton was a surprise 10-4 winner over the highly fancied Dave Chisnall.
‘The Power’ had beaten Terry Jenkins 10-5 in their all Unicorn quarter-final and looked on course to win at Bolton for the 5th time, but he ran up against an inspired Scot.
And Thornton’s achievement is even more remarkable when you consider that he was seriously ill, suffering from pneumonia only nine months ago.
He won the World Masters in his days at the BDO, but this is the greatest day of his career – winning in the PDC and beating Taylor in the final.
“Without doubt, the best moment of my career,” he said. “And to beat Phil is extra special. It is a dream come true and after all I have been through as well.”
There was no hint to the drama that was to come when Taylor won the first two legs comfortably, but that is when his troubles started.
He missed an incredible 10 darts to go 3-0 up and Thornton pounced.
He followed that with an 11 darter, and as Taylor kept missing (mainly D16), the Scot visibly grew in confidence....despite trailing 2-3 at the break, Thornton then won an astonishing SEVEN legs on the spin – hitting three more 180s and a 106 finish.
It was 9-3 and even Taylor wasn’t going to come back from there....he did stop the rot with a 93 finish, but Thornton took his 180 tally to six and won it in style.
He stepped up and took out 121 on the bull to win the title at the Reebok.
Taylor will be massively disappointed because the Unicorn star had targeted winning back all the ‘Major’ titles he didn’t hold.
But it is onward and upward for ‘The Power’ who will undoubtedly be the man to beat the World Matchplay in Blackpool next month.
Taylor’s time will come again but congratulations from everyone at Unicorn to Robert Thornton on his success.
Phil Taylor 10-2 Denis Ovens
Dave Chisnall 4-10 Robert Thornton
Losers - £10,000
Phil Taylor 5-11 Robert Thornton
Winner - £40,000
Runner-up - £20.000
By STUART PYKE in Bolton
Photo courtesy Chris Sargeant