WELSHMAN FIRST UP FOR TAYLOR IN BLACKPOOL

PHIL TAYLOR will begin the defence of his StanJames.com World Matchplay title against Barrie Bates at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool next month.

Taylor’s bid for an 11th World Matchplay title will open against the Welsh star, who was the 2006 UK Open runner-up, when the pair clash at the Winter Gardens.

The World Matchplay, held from July 17-25 in the Empress Ballroom at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, will also feature former champions James Wade and Colin Lloyd, who take on Andy Smith and Kevin Painter respectively in the first round.

The field for the tournament was confirmed following Tuesday’s Las Vegas Players Championship, which was won by Co Stompe – one of the 16 Players Championship Order of Merit qualifiers who join the world’s top 16 in challenging for the £100,000 title.

Paul Nicholson returned to 16th in the PDC Order of Merit after going further than Gary Anderson in the event, with the Scot a second round loser to Wales’ Steve Evans before Nicholson lost to Nigel Heydon in the last 32.

With Nicholson securing the final automatic qualifying place via the PDC Order of Merit, Anderson qualifies for the World Matchplay through the Players Championship Order of Merit alongside 15 other players.

Tony Eccles hung on to the last spot, ahead of Heydon and Monday’s semi-finalist Chris Thompson – with the pair both defeating Taylor in Las Vegas but falling just short of a World Matchplay spot.

Klaasen, Nicholson, Steve Brown and Mark Webster all qualify for their debuts in Blackpool as a result of their performances in the 21 Players Championships staged so far this year.

Nicholson, who could face Taylor in round two, meets Steve Beaton, Klaasen drew world number four Mervyn King, Bristol’s Brown takes on two-time runner-up Terry Jenkins and Webster drew Stoke’s Adrian Lewis.

World number two Raymond van Barneveld will begin his challenge against Denis Ovens, a semi-finalist in the Rileys Darts Zones UK Open recently.

Anderson, who was the runner-up to Taylor in Bolton and also won a Players Championship in Las Vegas on Monday, drew Scottish rival Robert Thornton in round one.

Tickets for the StanJames.com World Matchplay remain on sale, although certain sessions have sold out. For full information or to purchase, visit the Tickets section of www.pdc.tv, visit the Winter Gardens Box Office or call 0844 856 1111.

StanJames.com World Matchplay
Draw & Tournament Bracket
Dennis Priestley (14) v Vincent van der Voort
James Wade (3) v Andy Smith
Colin Osborne (11) v Wayne Jones
Ronnie Baxter (6) v Jamie Caven
Andy Hamilton (10) v Co Stompe
Adrian Lewis (7) v Mark Webster
Alan Tabern (15) v Wes Newton
Raymond van Barneveld (2) v Denis Ovens
Robert Thornton (13) v Gary Anderson
Mervyn King (4) v Jelle Klaasen
Simon Whitlock (12) v Tony Eccles
Terry Jenkins (5) v Steve Brown
Colin Lloyd (9) v Kevin Painter
Mark Walsh (8) v Mark Dudbridge
Paul Nicholson (16) v Steve Beaton
Phil Taylor (1) v Barrie Bates

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