He is yet again the man to beat….the bookmakers believe that Phil Taylor is in the mood to reclaim the UK Open crown in Bolton.
The FA Cup of Darts kicks-off at the Reebok on Thursday, with shocks and surprises guaranteed.
An open draw adds to the drama, with four days of darting madness and mayhem!
Team Unicorn star James Wade will start the defence of his title on the opening night….he enters the competition in the 2nd Round against either Mark Lawrence, Jamie Robinson, Glen Durrant or Stephen Bunting.
But Taylor is still the man to beat.
The Unicorn ace is refreshed and ready to go after enjoying a 10 day holiday at his villa in Tenerife.
“After the Premier League, I felt it was important to get away, to relax and recharge the batteries,” he said.
“We all know the UK Open takes some winning. It is a huge test of mental and physical strength, especially if you are lucky enough to get through to the latter stages.”
Taylor is desperate to ‘win back’ the titles that he doesn’t currently hold.
“That is my aim. I managed to win the Premier League and the UK Open is the next one on my list.”
He added: “I love the tournament and the atmosphere. It is unique and it is a great chance for all the players to showcase their talents. We always get lots of upsets and there are always unsung heroes who manage to make it through to the Sunday which adds to the excitement.”
“I am playing well, I feel great and I am much relaxed about life now, so hopefully it can be my year again.”
The tournament brings together the top professionals, qualifiers and amateurs who have earned their places thanks to a series of events involving tournament sponsors Speedy Hire.
Most of the Team Unicorn stars come into the UK Open on Friday night in the 3rd Round, as they made it into the top 32 from the eight qualifying events staged around the country this year.
But Arron Monk and Paul Nicholson both play on Thursday at the Reebok.
Monk is involved on the main stage in the preliminary round against qualifier Paul Boulton, while ‘The Asset’ plays in the 1st Round against either Harry Miles or Andy Melling.
12 months ago, Wade toppled Wes Newton 11-8 in the final in Bolton.
In this 10th anniversary year for the UK Open, will there be a new name on the trophy, or can Taylor justify his tag of favourite and win the tournament for a 5th time?
You can keep across all the action with regular updates over the UK Open weekend right here on the Unicorn website.
By STUART PYKE
Photo courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC