The UK Open lived up to it reputation as the FA Cup of Darts again on the first two days of the 2016 edition. Riley’s qualifiers gave it their all and many Pro’s were given a tough time. Even MVG was subdued, and The Power struggled, in the early the early rounds.
The Giant Killing Starts
Robert Thornton, the 2012 champion, became the biggest casualty of Day 1. The world number seven bowing out to Aaron Monk even after starting strongly. Alex Roy, one of only eight ever presents, looked like he may be the story of the day. Roy, who had had to qualify through Riley’s, got off to a great start, defeating fellow veteran Dennis Smith on the main stage and then coming from behind to win his second round game. Sadly Roy could not make day two, running out of steam in his third game vs Justin Pipe.
Clash of the Titans.
With the initial skirmishes over the last 64 draw was made. As always, the draw provided some uncomfortable moments. Ian “Diamond” White was paired with Simon Whitlock, world ranking number 12 vs number 18. Peter Wright was paired with the evergreen Steve Beaton, Wright emerging a 9-5 winner. Even more mouth-watering, for the five thousand fans, was the clash between Gary Anderson & Dave Chisnal. Two Premier League players , ranked two & ten, who normally could not meet until at least two rounds later in any TV event.
White vs Whitlock did not even rate a TV slot and saw the Aussie overcome a two – five deficit to win through. Mensur Sulivic the inform Austrian repeated his previous wins over an out of sorts James Wade. The machine was deeply unhappy with the board, although his complaints fell on deaf ears.
The main event proved to be worth the wait. Chizzy started strongly and got into a lead, both players seemed to have a little too much respect for the others, it was almost like a couple of prize-fighters waiting to let rip. Finally, despite not being in the lead throughout the match, Anderson kicked into life and produced a tremendous ‘last round’ finish to emerge a 9-7 winner.
Beware “The Spider”.
After a torrid time, Mark Webster has been cooking with gas again for a few months, better floor showings and, great runs in the last few TV events, have seen the confidence return and the old control and consistency is back. His last 64 victory over Matt Edgar was a demonstration of understated skill and control. In this shape “Webby” could be the man to watch.
Rise of the Amateurs
Altogether five “Amateur” qualifiers made it through to Round 3, a pretty good showing. Sadly the enigma that is Les Delderfield did not even appear, thus a possible fairy story petered out. Most notable were Rob Cross who defeated two very in form and experienced players handily, neither Ken McNiel nor Wes Newton would have been expecting to be so ruthlessly dispatched, and Barry Lynn who, after defeating Claydon and, UK Open veteran, Dean Stewart, would take on “The History Maker” Brendon Dolan, for a place in the last thirty-two and a chance of an even bigger draw.
Cross did a fine job in removing, the in form, Geoffry de Graff, in a last leg thriller, and moved on into the hat with the big boys, only to get the worst draw imaginable in MVG. Lynn put in another tremendous shift, at the end of a very long day and out lasted Dolan 9 -6. Indeed, it was so late, the draw, for Day Two, had already been held. It was left for the TV presenter to tell Barry that he had drawn reigning world champ Gary Anderson! His response? “good I will smash him all over the board” joking or not Lynn seems to have what many qualifiers, and lower ranked pro’s, lack, genuine confidence and belief.
Day Two would show us, and Barry, whether this was misplaced or not!