PHIL TAYLOR won his first tournament since the summer with defeat of Mark Walsh in a Players Championship in Derby on Saturday.

Since claiming the European Championship title on August 1, Taylor has missed out on victory in the World Grand Prix, Championship League Darts, a Players Championship in Killarney and at last week’s Daily Mirror Grand Slam of Darts.

However, he bounced back to winning ways at Derby’s Moorways Leisure Centre, taking the £6,000 first prize with a 6-3 win over Mark Walsh in the decider – avenging a loss to the Hertfordshire man at the same venue in April.

Taylor’s route to the final also included a victory over Steve Beaton, who knocked him out in the quarter-finals of the Grand Slam of Darts a week earlier, as well as wins against Jimmy Mann, Paul Nicholson, Mark Webster and Dennis Priestley.

In the final, Walsh led before Taylor took three in a row with finishes of 121, 97 and 96 – only to then miss seven doubles in the next as Walsh hit back, before taking out 96 himself to level.

Taylor, though, responded with a 13-dart finish to lead 4-3, edged a tense eighth leg after Walsh wasted four chances to level before sealing the win in 14 darts.

“I’m delighted,” said Taylor. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had this winning feeling but it’s great!

“Mark gave me a tough game in the final but when he missed the chance to level at four-all I knew I had to finish him off quickly, and I managed to do that.”

He added: “The Players Championships are fantastic events because they are great match practice, and I’m preparing for the World Cup of Darts next week in the north-east.

“I’ll be back again on Sunday and it would be brilliant preparation for the World Cup to win another Players Championship.”

Walsh won through to his sixth final of the year with a narrow 6-5 defeat of Justin Pipe in the semis, having to come from 3-1 down in the process.

Walsh also knocked out in-form Simon Whitlock in the quarter-finals as well as Vincent van der Voort, Steve Brown and Steve Evans.

Emerging star Pipe’s run to the semis ensured his place in the World Darts Championship as a qualifier through the Players Championship Order of Merit, which will be finalised following Sunday’s event in Derby.

Two-time World Champion Dennis Priestley also battled through to the last four, with a 115 finish in the deciding leg of his clash with Steve Farmer in the quarters giving him another meeting against long-time rival Taylor.

Denis Ovens and Steve Beaton joined Whitlock and Farmer in the quarter-finals, while Dennis Smith, Andy Jenkins and Michael Smith all performed well in reaching the last 16.

Players Championship 36 (Derby, Saturday)
First Round
Simon Whitlock (1) Bye
Adrian Gray 6-2 Dave Ladley
Steve Hine (32) 6-5 Alex Roy
Michael Barnard 6-4 Kevin Harris
Kevin Painter (16) 6-3 Gary Eastwood
Mark Tiller 6-5 Bill Davis
Mark Dudbridge (17) 6-2 Chris White
Peter Wright 6-2 Mark Jones
Vincent van der Voort (8) Bye
Kirk Shepherd 6-3 Stephen Hardy
Jelle Klaasen (25) 6-4 Matt Clark
Darren Webster 6-3 Ian Jopling
Mark Walsh (9) Bye
Steve Evans 6-4 Brian Startin
Steve Brown (24) 6-3 Peter Hudson
Jamie Atkins 6-4 Gary Blades
Jamie Caven (5) Bye
Chris Thompson 6-5 Paul Williams
Justin Pipe (28) 6-1 Phillip Hazel
Par Riihonen 6-1 Norman Fletcher
Andy Hamilton (12) 6-1 Mark Lawrence
Mareno Michels 6-2 Steve Grubb
Terry Jenkins (21) 6-1 Steve Maish
John Part 6-0 Peter Manley
Wes Newton (4) Bye
Steven Pearson 6-3 Andy Fulton
Dennis Smith (29) 6-3 Michael van Gerwen
Mark Frost 6-3 Joe Cullen
Denis Ovens (13) 6-3 Terry Temple
Ian White 6-3 William O’Connor
Barrie Bates (20) 6-2 Darren Weaver
Roland Scholten 6-4 Dean Allsopp
Gary Anderson (2) Bye
Ken MacNeil 6-1 Tom Martin
Brendan Dolan (31) 6-2 Aodhagan O’Neill
Louis Blundell 6-3 Nick Fullwell
Alan Tabern (15) 6-0 Stephen Perkins
Mark Hylton 6-0 Mike Roberts
Dennis Priestley (18) 6-3 Scott Burnett
Sam Allen 6-3 Mark Jodrill
Adrian Lewis (7) Bye
Michael Smith 6-5 Andy Pearce
Tony Eccles (26) 6-1 Jim Leighton
John MaGowan 6-1 Ryan Herrington
Ronnie Baxter (10) Bye
Arron Monk 6-3 James Barton
Steve Farmer (23) 6-5 Martyn Bevan
Geoff Whitworth 6-2 Nigel Birch
Phil Taylor (6) Bye
Jimmy Mann 6-2 Chris Iedema
Paul Nicholson (27) 6-0 Paul Rowley
Matt Padgett 6-3 Ken Dobson
Mark Webster (11) Bye
Darren Johnson 6-0 Colin Monk
Richie Burnett (22) 6-5 Tony Ayres
Kevin Dowling 6-4 Lionel Sams
Colin Lloyd (3) Bye
Kevin McDine 6-3 Dave Smith
Andy Jenkins 6-2 Robert Thornton (30)
Simon Burt 6-4 Jon Archer
Wayne Jones (14) 6-0 Andy Relf
Andy Pearson 6-1 Mick McGowan
Steve Beaton (19) 6-1 Anton Liscsey
Wayne Mardle 6-3 Martyn Turner

Second Round
Simon Whitlock 6-2 Adrian Gray
Steve Hine 6-2 Michael Barnard
Kevin Painter 6-3 Mark Tiller
Mark Dudbridge 6-3 Peter Wright
Vincent van der Voort 6-4 Kirk Shepherd
Jelle Klaasen 6-5 Darren Webster
Mark Walsh 6-2 Steve Evans
Steve Brown 6-2 Jamie Atkins
Chris Thompson 6-3 Jamie Caven
Justin Pipe 6-1 Par Riihonen
Mareno Michels 6-3 Andy Hamilton
Terry Jenkins 6-5 John Part
Wes Newton 6-1 Steven Pearson
Dennis Smith 6-1 Mark Frost
Denis Ovens 6-5 Ian White
Roland Scholten 6-5 Barrie Bates
Gary Anderson 6-2 Ken MacNeil
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Louis Blundell
Alan Tabern 6-3 Mark Hylton
Dennis Priestley 6-4 Sam Allen
Michael Smith 6-3 Adrian Lewis
John MaGowan 6-5 Tony Eccles
Arron Monk 6-2 Ronnie Baxter
Steve Farmer 6-0 Geoff Whitworth
Phil Taylor 6-1 Jimmy Mann
Paul Nicholson 6-3 Matt Padgett
Mark Webster 6-4 Darren Johnson
Richie Burnett 6-3 Kevin Dowling
Kevin McDine 6-2 Colin Lloyd
Andy Jenkins 6-0 Simon Burt
Wayne Jones 6-1 Andy Pearson
Steve Beaton 6-0 Wayne Mardle
Losers £200

Third Round
Simon Whitlock 6-1 Steve Hine
Kevin Painter 6-4 Mark Dudbridge
Vincent van der Voort 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Mark Walsh 6-3 Steve Brown
Justin Pipe 6-0 Chris Thompson
Terry Jenkins 6-2 Mareno Michels
Dennis Smith 6-5 Wes Newton
Denis Ovens 6-5 Roland Scholten
Gary Anderson 6-0 Brendan Dolan
Dennis Priestley 6-2 Alan Tabern
Michael Smith 6-3 John MaGowan
Steve Farmer 6-5 Arron Monk
Phil Taylor 6-5 Paul Nicholson
Mark Webster 6-0 Richie Burnett
Andy Jenkins 6-3 Kevin McDine
Steve Beaton 6-3 Wayne Jones
Losers £300

Fourth Round
Simon Whitlock 6-3 Kevin Painter
Mark Walsh 6-4 Vincent van der Voort
Justin Pipe 6-5 Terry Jenkins
Denis Ovens 6-5 Dennis Smith
Dennis Priestley 6-3 Gary Anderson
Steve Farmer 6-5 Michael Smith
Phil Taylor 6-1 Mark Webster
Steve Beaton 6-4 Andy Jenkins
Losers £500

Mark Walsh 6-2 Simon Whitlock
Justin Pipe 6-0 Denis Ovens
Dennis Priestley 6-5 Steve Farmer
Phil Taylor 6-1 Steve Beaton
Losers £1,000

Mark Walsh 6-4 Justin Pipe
Phil Taylor 6-1 Dennis Priestley
Losers £1,500

Phil Taylor 6-3 Mark Walsh
Winner £6,000
Runner-Up £3,000

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