UK Open 2012 Kicked off on Thursday
The UK Open darts kicked off on Thursday from the Reebok Stadium in Bolton. The annual tournament is perhaps the most fun on the darts calendar. It’s nicknamed the FA Cup of darts, and for good reason, nation wide open qualifiers ensure anyone who fancies themselves a darts player can qualify to play the big beasts of the sport; Phil Taylor, James Wade, Raymond van Barneveld.
The tournament is broadcast on Sky Sports all weekend.
This is the tenth staging of the competition and of the previous nine Phil Taylor has won four, Barney two and James Wade two - Wade is the defending Champion - four out of nine wins, believe it or not, is Taylor’s lowest winning ratio. This is a testament to how difficult the UK Open is to win. Eight matches over three or four days is required to lift the trophy on Sunday.
Amateur qualifiers, no one has ever heard of, play out of their skin because a first round game against a James Wade or Mark Webster is their moment in the sun.
And the amateur qualifiers seized their opportunity on day one of the competition. Jon Jukes, a rank outsider, sent former World Champion and World renowned lothario Steve Beaton home in the preliminary round in the first shock of the night.
This was not all the amateur qualifiers had to say for themselves. Mark Webster and James Wade both survived scares on Thursday night.
Wade came up against amateur qualifier Stephen Bunting. He was nonchalant, assumed he only had to play at 20% to defeat the amateur, but by the end of the match he was whooping and screaming like he’d just won a major title. Very un-Wade-like.
But it was entirely justified. Bunting averaged over 100, threw four 180s and had four darts for the match. Eventually experience told but Wade had to come from 3-2 down to win 4-3. The defending Champion survived to fight another day.
Likewise Mark Webster found himself, inconceivably, in a heap of trouble when he also had to mount a comeback to win 4-3 against Johnny Haines, another amateur, who had a shot at bull for victory. Mark Webster has never played as badly on television, averaging in the 70s.
Darts fans welcomed Lord of the Underworld Ted Hankey back to their screens. He was competing in his first televised tournament since switching to the PDC. He won his first two matches but eventually succumbed to Mervyn King. It was a positive run from one of the most entertaining figures in darts.
In FA Cup of darts anything can happen, and often does.
Remember you can watch this event live on your computer or mobile with Sky Sports streaming on SkyGo. Need a UK IP address? Click Here
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