Robert Thornton wins UK Open
At the start of the tournament it was a toss-up as to which was the more unlikely.
That Robert Thornton, a 250-1 outsider before the first dart was thrown, would win the UK Open or that Phil Taylor would reach the final and then miss more doubles than a short-sighted barman grappling with the optics.
Throw in a member of the audience who tried to gatecrash the oche and the Reebok Stadium in Bolton had just about everything. Including only the sixth time that Taylor had lost in a televised final after more than 70 tournaments as Thornton won 11-5.
The Scot had beaten Wes Newton 10-8 in the quarter-finals and qualified for the final when he Dave Chisnall 10-4 but he still booked for the runners-up cheque as Taylor swept past Terry Jenkins (10-5) and Denis Ovens (10-2).
And he looked like doing much the same with Thornton with 11 and 12-dart finished to win the opening two legs. But then Thornton dragged himself off the floor, much as he did after a bout of pneumonia sidelined him for two months last year, to win the third leg – although he was helped by the fact that Taylor contrived to miss 10 darts at a double.
But this was not simply a case of Taylor playing below-par – and neither man was helped when a would-be streaker attempted to get on to the stage before being caught and escorted out of the building.
Thornton won nine of the next 10 legs and scored six 180s to go 9-3 up as Taylor missed 23 darts at a double. Taylor had stared down the barrel before and he got back to 10-5, but Thornton already had one hand on the trophy and finished the job in style with a 121 bullseye finish.
Thornton won the 2007 World Masters but had never quite built on that performance and had been beaten by Taylor, 16-9, the only previous time that they had met in a major final, in the 2009 Players’ Championship.
But he will be hoping that this is a step forward after more than his share of knockbacks last year when his illness had pushed him out of the world's top 32 after he had slipped down the PDC Order of Merit.
"It hasn't sunk in what I've done yet," Thornton said to pdc.tv. “When I won the World Masters in 2007 it was a great achievement but to beat Phil Taylor in a televised final is a very special moment in my career. Phil did miss quite a few doubles in the middle of the game and I managed to take the chances that were on offer to me."
Taylor, who was losing his first final since Gary Anderson beat him in the 2007 World Darts Trophy, said that the intruder had broken his concentration but was keen to praise the winner rather than make excuses. "Robert was the better player tonight and throughout the tournament,” Taylor said.
“He's come through an incredibly tough draw and beaten the likes of Mark Webster, Gary Anderson and Wes Newton along the way to the final, so that shows he deserves this title."
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