PHIL TAYLOR started his William Hill World Darts Championship bid with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Germany’s Jyhan Artut in the first round on Friday night, as Sascha Stein became the second debutant to reach the last 32 as he dumped out Stuart Kellett at Alexandra Palace.

Taylor recorded the first three-figure average of the tournament so far as he finished with 100.57, landed two 180s and completed a superb 60 percent checkout ratio when hitting nine of his 15 shots at double.

Artut posed few problems for Taylor throughout the match, especially early on when the second seed rattled off the first six legs without reply – the first three all coming with a perfect three-out-of-three on his doubles.

A 64 outshot to start the second set made if four from four, and even when Taylor missed his first double in leg five he had time to recover. Two more doubles were missed in the next, but with Artut not on a finish Taylor comfortably made the scoreline 2-0.

Artut finally got a leg on the board at the start of the third set after hitting his first 180, but Taylor instantly put his foot down and hit a 180 before taking out 84 to complete an 11-darter, and moved 2-1 in front only for Artut to grab a second leg with a fine 95, outshot finishing on double 16.

Artut could not find a way to get right back into the contest, though, as Taylor hit a 180 in the next leg which gave him enough breathing space to hit double 16 and book his place in the second round.

“That was job done tonight,” said Taylor. “I’m up for this and I’m after this World Championship, trust me, I’m not sure how many of these I’ve got left so I’m fully going after this one.

“I’m not 100 percent right for this first round right now, so I’m going to go back and top up, get prepared and come back fully ready for the next round.

“I’ll be practising on Christmas Day for a couple of hours, then I’ll probably spend four hours cooking the Christmas dinner for the grandkids!”

For the second time in 24 hours, an International Qualifier booked a place in the second round as Germany’s Sascha Stein joined Spain’s Cristo Reyes in the last 32 by knocking out Stuart Kellett 3-1 to earn a prize tie with Michael van Gerwen.

The German had earlier seen off Kim Viljanen in the preliminary round with a 4-1 triumph, and – just as Reyes had done on Thursday’s opening night against Wes Newton – then doubled up by returning to the stage to cause a big upset against the 32nd seed.

Kellett was punished for six missed doubles in the opening set as Stein took the advantage, before the Cheshire ace hit back to level by taking the second.

Kellett then led for the first time in the match by taking the opening leg of the third set, but a 180 in the next left Stein with 57, which he mopped up easily before he produced a 14-darter to move 2-1 ahead and on the verge of picking up a famous win.

Stein made the perfect start to the fourth set by hitting double eight and double 16 to lead 2-0, but nerves started to tell as he missed two darts for the match, allowing Kellett a lifeline after hitting double 16.

Another missed match dart slipped by for Stein and Kellett chose that moment to hit the first three-figure finish of the match, with a 108 combination keeping him in the tie.

It was only a temporary reprieve though as Stein held his nerve to see off an unconvential 79 finish on the bull to book his dream showdown with reigning champion van Gerwen in round two.

Former finalist Andy Hamilton survived a big scare to battle back from a set down to beat Dave Richardson 3-2, despite the Scottish-born Canadian hitting seven of the 12 180s in the match and taking two sets on the bounce to put his opponent under serious pressure.

The 2012 runner-up and 12th seed this year made a regulation start to his match against the Alexandra Palace debutant, with the Stoke thrower taking the first three legs.

Richardson hit his second 180 of the match at the start of the second set, before taking out 67 on tops to get his first leg on the board.

Hamilton responded with a 64 checkout on double 16, before both men hit some form when they landed 180s in successive legs, but it was Richardson who came out on top by taking both – the second courtesy of a 96 two-dart finish.

Richardson continued the run with double top giving him a break of throw to start the third set, which he then took 3-1 thanks to three 180s in successive legs, with Hamilton’s sole response being a brilliant 114 outshot.

Hamilton was up against it at 2-1 down, but he turned the game around in a hurry as he rattled off six straight legs as the big scoring from Richardson deserted him.

Hamilton took his time completing the win as he missed six match darts but eventually hit double six to move through to meet Steve Beaton or Kyle Anderson.

“I struggled early on and he played well at times, but I managed to come back in the end,” said Hamilton. “This longer format really suits me and I know I can always hang on in there even when I’m struggling.

“I just need a little bit of luck – I’ve not had much of it but I feel I’ve been playing well and when I play like I know I can, I know I can do well.”

Last year’s beaten finalist Peter Wright overcame Welsh debutant Gerwyn Price in straight sets, but it was not as easy as the scoreline suggested as the Scot made it through a tough first round encounter.

Former rugby union player Price showed he can be equally as adept on the oche as in a scrum as he pushed last year’s runner-up all the way, including hitting five 180s to Wright’s two.

Wright quickly took the opening two legs but Price hit back with a 180 to set up 38, which he took out at the first attempt by hitting double 19.

Wright then hit three scores of 100 before a 54 finish gave him the set with an impressive 104 average – while Price was hardly struggling with an average of 100 of his own.

After sharing the first two legs of the next set, Price hit his second 180 as a 14-darter broke the Wright throw and moved him 2-1 ahead in the set.

Wright hit back immediately and took out 96 in great style by finishing with single 20, double 18 and double top, and when Price missed tops for the set in the next he mopped up 66 for a two-set advantage.

The third set also went all the way, with Price going 2-1 in front before Wright dug out his best darts just when he needed it again, finishing off a 12-darter with a checkout of 100 to draw level before a 14-darter and 86 outshot put him through.

“I’ve had an up and down year, swapping my darts around and stuff like that, but now I’m feeling a lot more settled,” said Wright – who sported a mistletoe pattern on his head and a Christmas tree on his goatee beard.

“I’ve got some time off now to practice more and get myself on top form for the rest of the tournament.”

The first round continues on Saturday with a double session at Alexandra Palace, as “Australia Day” sees four Australians – and New Zealand’s Mark McGrath – in action.

Andy Smith opens the afternoon session against Belgium’s Ronny Huybrechts, and Justin Pipe plays Laurence Ryder – the UK-born, Perth-based Australian domestic number one – before Robert Thornton takes on debutant Andrew Gilding and Ronnie Baxter faces either Scott Mackenzie or Daryl Gurney.

2010 finalist Simon Whitlock faces Darren Webster in the evening session, while Steve Beaton meets another Australian, Kyle Anderson – who hit a nine-darter in last year’s event.

The other player to achieve a perfect leg 12 months ago, Terry Jenkins, plays Oceanic Masters champion John Weber, before number four seed Gary Anderson – the 2011 finalist – plays either McGrath or America’s Scott Kirchner.

WILLIAM HILL WORLD DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS

Preliminary & First Rounds
Friday December 19
Andy Hamilton (12) 3-2 Dave Richardson
Kim Viljanen 1-4 Sascha Stein (P)
Peter Wright (5) 3-0 Gerwyn Price
Phil Taylor (2) 3-0 Jyhan Artut
Stuart Kellett (32) 1-3 Sascha Stein

Saturday December 20
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)
Andy Smith (28) v Ronny Huybrechts
Scott Mackenzie v Daryl Gurney (P)
Justin Pipe (17) v Laurence Ryder
Robert Thornton (9) v Andrew Gilding
Ronnie Baxter (24) v Scott Mackenzie/Daryl Gurney

Evening Session (7pm)
Steve Beaton (21) v Kyle Anderson
Mark McGrath v Scott Kirchner (P)
Terry Jenkins (16) v John Weber
Simon Whitlock (7) v Darren Webster
Gary Anderson (4) v Mark McGrath/Scott Kirchner

MATCH INFORMATION
ANDY HAMILTON 3-2 DAVE RICHARDSON

ANDY HAMILTON survived a big scare to battle back from a set down and defeat Dave Richardson 3-2 in the first round of the William Hill World Darts Championship.

The 2012 runner-up and 12th seed this year made a regulation start to his match against the Alexandra Palace debutant, with the Stoke thrower taking the first three legs without reply.

Richardson hit his second 180 of the match at the start of the second set, before taking out 67 on tops to get his first leg on the board.

Hamilton responded with a 64 checkout on double 16, before both men hit some form when they landed 180s in successive legs, but it was Richardson who came out on top by taking both – the second courtesy of a 96 two-dart finish.

Richardson continued the run with double top giving him a break of throw to start the third set, which he then took 3-1 thanks to three 180s in successive legs, with Hamilton’s sole response being a brilliant 114 outshot.

Hamilton was up against it at 2-1 down, but he turned the game around in a hurry as he rattled off six straight legs as the big scoring from Richardson deserted him.

Hamilton took his time completing the win as he missed six match darts but eventually hit double six to move through to meet Steve Beaton or Kyle Anderson.

“I struggled early on and he played well at times, but I managed to come back in the end,” said Hamilton. “This longer format really suits me and I know I can always hang on in there even when I’m struggling.

“I just need a little bit of luck, I’ve not had much of it but I feel I’ve been playing well and when I play like I know I can, I know I can do well.

“There’s no time to rest now, I’ve got to go and hit the board again over Christmas and practice. This is the World Championship and this is where you want to play your best darts.”
Match Information
First Set 3-0 – Nice start for former finalist Hamilton, who takes out 70 to win the first leg. Richardson gets three shots at double in the set but can’t convert on any of them while Hamilton hits three out of four.
Second Set – 1-3 – Great darts from Richardson, who hits three 180s in four legs and takes out 67 and 96 – which seals a break of throw and the set in the fourth leg. Hamilton raised his game as well with two maximums but it’s not enough.
Third Set 1-3 – More of the same from Richardson, who hits another three 180s during the set. Hamilton takes out a match-best 114, and hits a 180 in the last leg to pressure the finish but Richardson takes out 40 to move ahead.
Fourth Set 3-0 – Much better stuff from Hamilton, showig a much more clinical finish and a couple of 180s as well. Richardson had the darts in this set as well but an early break with a 70 checkout put Hamilton ahead and he cruised it from there.
Fifth Set 3-0 – Hamilton takes it! Richardson crumbled in the final set really, as Hamilton stepped it up, the plucky Canadian just didn’t have the scoring power to keep up with Hamilton, who finishes it off with a sixth straight leg.

KIM VILJANEN 1-4 SASCHA STEIN (P)

SASCHA STEIN made light work of his preliminary round clash with Finland’s Kim Viljanen despite losing the opening leg of the match in a shaky start.

Stein hit back by taking out double eight to level things up with a 14-darter, before breaking the throw of Viljanen to go 2-1 up on tops.

He followed it up with double two to get another leg on the board and made no mistake by throwing a 180 in the fifth leg, which proved to be the last as he nailed double ten.

With a 91 average, Stein set himself up for a return to the big stage later in the night against number 32 seed Stuart Kellett.
PETER WRIGHT 3-0 GERWYN PRICE

PETER WRIGHT overcame Welsh debutant Gerwyn Price in straight sets, but it was not as easy as the scoreline suggested as the Scot made it through a tough first round encounter. at Alexandra Palace.

Former rugby union player Price showed he can be equally as adept on the oche as in a scrum as he pushed last year’s runner-up all the way, including hitting five 180s to Wright’s two.

Wright quickly took the opening two legs but Price hit back with a 180 to set up 38, which he took out at the first attempt by hitting double 19.

Wright then hit three scores of 100 before a 54 finish gave him the set with an impressive 104 average – while Price was hardly struggling with an average of 100 of his own.

After sharing the first two legs of the next set, Price hit his second 180 as a 14-darter broke the Wright throw and moved him 2-1 ahead in the set.

Wright hit back immediately and took out 96 in great style by finishing with single 20, double 18 and double top, and when Price missed tops for the set in the next he mopped up 66 for a two-set advantage.

The third set also went all the way, with Price going 2-1 in front before Wright dug out his best darts just when he needed it again, finishing off a 12-darter with a checkout of 100 to draw level before a 14-darter and 86 outshot put him through.

“I’ve had an up and down year, swapping my darts around and stuff like that, but now I’m feeling a lot more settled,” said Wright – who sported a mistletoe pattern on his head and a Christmas tree on his goatee beard.

“I’ve got some time off now to practice more and get myself on top form for the rest of the tournament. I’m not sure what hairstyle I’ll have on next time, that’s down to the wife – she wears the trousers and she decides what it’ll look like each time!”

Match Information
First Set 3-1 – Great start from Wright, who averages over 104 when taking it 3-1. Price makes a decent start himself with an average of 100, but it’s not enough as Wright takes out 54 to finish it off.
Second Set 3-2 – Wright manages to salvage the set by grabbing the last t wo legs, although Price missed one darts at tops for the set. Price also hit three 180s and broke the Wright throw, but it was just not enough as Wright takes out 66 for a 2-0 lead.
Third Set 3-2 – Again Wright is made to fight hard after Price goes 2-1 in front. Wright manages to up his game just at the right time again though to dig out the win, pulling out a 12-darter with 100 finish and clinching 14-darter with an 86 checkout.

PHIL TAYLOR 3-0 JYHAN ARTUT
PHIL TAYLOR started his bid for a 17th World Championship title with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Germany’s Jyhan Artut in the first round at Alexandra Palace.

Taylor recorded the first three-figure average of the tournament so far as he finished with a 100.57 total, landing two 180s and a 60 percent checkout ratio by hitting nine of his 15 shots at a double.

Artut posed few problems for Taylor throughout the match, especially early on when the second seed rattled off the first six legs without reply – the first three all coming with a perfect three-out-of-three on his doubles.

A 64 outshot to start the second set made if four from four, and even when Taylor missed his first double in leg five he had time to recover.

Two more doubles were missed in the next, but with Artut not on a finish Taylor comfortably made it 2-0.

Artut finally got a leg on the board at the start of the third set after hitting his first 180, but Taylor instantly put his foot down and hit a 180 and took out 84 to complete an 11-darter, before going 2-1 in front – only for Artut to grab a second leg with a fine 95 outshot, finishing on double 16.

Artut could not find a way to get right back into the contest though, as Taylor hit a 180 in the next leg which gave him enough breathing space to land double 16 and book his place in the second round.

“That was job done tonight,” said Taylor. “I’m up for this and I’m after this World Championship, trust me, I’m not sure how many of these I’ve got left so I’m fully going after this one.

“I’m not 100 percent right for this first round right now, so I’m going to go back and top up, get prepared and come back fully ready for the next round.

“I’ll be practising on Christmas Day for a couple of hours, then I’ll probably spend four hours cooking the Christmas dinner for the grandkids!”
Match Information
First Set 3-0 – About as easy as it gets for the first set of the World Championship for Taylor, as he takes all three legs and only needs three shots at doubles with Artut always looking a few steps behind.
Second Set 3-0 – It takes until the fifth leg for Taylor to miss a double, but he nails it on his second go, and follows up with a sixth straight leg to power 2-0 in front.
Third Set 3-2 – It’s all over but at last Artut manages to get a shot at doubles, he misses five of them, but does get a leg on the board. Taylor reposnds with an 11-darter but Artut drags it out with a 95 checkout before Taylor finishes him off in the next.

STUART KELLETT 1-3 SASCHA STEIN

A SECOND qualifier booked a dream place in the second round of the WIlliam Hill World Darts Championship as Sascha Stein knocked out 32nd seed Stuart Kellett 3-1 to earn a prized tie with Michael van Gerwen at Alexandra Palace.

The German had earlier seen off Kim Viljanen in the preliminary round, and – just as Spaniard Cristo Reyes had done 24 hours earlier – then doubled up by returning to the stage to cause a big upset.

It was a nervy start, with Kellett missing six darts at doubles in the opening set as Stein hit double 11 to claim a third straight leg and the opening set.

When Stein broke the Kellett in the next set he made it 2-2 and was then throwing for the set, but he let Kellett off the hook by missing tops – and although Kellett almost squandered his chance when needing 52 by hitting single five with his first dart, he followed with a 15 and double 16 to level the match.

Kellett then led for the first time in the match by taking the opening leg of the third set after three missed doubles by Stein, who did the same in the next but recovered to hit double eight to level matters.

A 180 in the next left Stein with 57, which he mopped up easily, before he produced a 14-darter in the next to go 2-1 ahead and on the verge of picking up a famous win.

Stein made the perfect start to the next set by hitting double eight and double 16 to go 2-0 ahead, but nerves started to tell as he missed two darts for the match, allowing Kellett a lifeline after hitting double 16.

Another missed match dart slipped by for Stein and Kellett chose that moment to hit the first three-figure finish of the match, with a 108 checkout keeping him in the tie.

It was only a temporary reprieve though as Stein kept his nerve to see off an unconvential 79 finish on the bull to book his dream showdown with van Gerwen in round two.

Match Information
First Set 0-3 – Could we be in for another shock on our hands? Stein makes a flying start, although Kellett is way below par, and misses six darts at double when losing the set.
Second Set 3-2 – Kellett escapes with the set that goes all the way. Stein threw for the set after a break, but crucially missed a dart at tops to go 2-0, and although Kellett his five when going for 52, he recovered to hit double 16 with his last dart.
Third Set 2-3 – Another close call but this time it’s Stein who prevails. Stein missed another six darts at doubles but his double 8 still made it 1-1. Stein then hits 180 to leave 57 and cleans it up, before a 14-darter puts him 2-1 ahead.
Fourt Set 2-3 – More late-night drama again as Stein books a dream place in the second round at the fourth time of asking having missed three match darts. Kellett extended the match with the first ton-plus finish of the match but Stein responded by taking out 79 on the Bull.