PHIL TAYLOR made a storming start to his bid for a fourth PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic title with a 6-4 win over Kevin Painter on Wednesday, as John Part, Wayne Mardle and Colin Lloyd crashed out of the event.

Painter battled through the qualifiers just to win a place in the main event but was simply overpowered by Taylor, who averaged 108.8 in the win to his opponent’s 104.

Taylor lost 6-5 to Mark Dudbridge in last year’s first round and admitted that memory helped him to victory this time around, with an early 3-0 lead proving crucial in the final outcome.

“Last year’s gone but you do think about it,” he said. “You can only do something about the future and I’m up for it this year.

“Kevin was superb and won some great legs but I had to try and keep my throw – when he had his back against the wall he hit and 11 or 12-darter.

“At 5-4 I couldn’t let him get to five each, especially after what happened last year, and I kicked in.

“It was a cracking average but I’ve got a toughie against Dennis Priestley next and I’ll have to average 110 or so to beat him.”

Priestley won the tournament’s opening game with a 6-2 demolition of Dutchman Co Stompe, but there was misery for three seeds who crashed out of the tournament on the opening day.

World Champion John Part, the 2006 champion, lost 6-4 to Mervyn King, while 2004 and 2005 finalist Wayne Mardle went down by the same scoreline to qualifier Adrian Gray.

Colin Lloyd suffered a first round exit in Las Vegas for a third successive year with a 6-5 defeat to Sam Rooney, a qualifier from Hampshire.

World number five Terry Jenkins, the 2007 runner-up, made a winning start to his challenge with a 6-4 win over Ireland’s Mick McGowan, and will meet Roland Scholten in round two, after the Dutchman came from 3-0 down to see off Barrie Bates.

American Darin Young defeated Martin Burchell 6-4 in the final game of the day, setting up a clash with King in the second round on Friday.

The first round concludes on Thursday, with Raymond van Barneveld beginning the defence of his title against Matt Clark.

PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic VII
First Round
Wednesday 2 July
Dennis Priestley 6-2 Co Stompe
Terry Jenkins 6-4 Mick McGowan
Wayne Mardle 4-6 Adrian Gray
John Part 4-6 Mervyn King
Phil Taylor 6-4 Kevin Painter
Colin Lloyd 5-6 Sam Rooney
Roland Scholten 6-4 Barrie Bates
Darin Young 6-4 Martin Burchell

Thursday Fixtures (11am start local time, 7pm BST)
Andy Hamilton v Shawn Brenneman
Bill Davis v Mark Walsh
Gerry Convery v Jelle Klaasen
Adrian Lewis v Robert Thornton
Raymond van Barneveld v Matt Clark
James Wade v Dennis Smith
Peter Manley v Steve Maish
Larry Butler v Alan Tabern

DENNIS PRIESTLEY 6-2 CO STOMPE

DENNIS PRIESTLEY denied Co Stompe a dream debut in the PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic with a 6-2 victory in the tournament’s opening game.

Stompe battled through Monday’s qualifiers to earn his first appearance in a major PDC tournament, but the Dutchman paid for missed doubles at crucial moments as the veteran Yorkshireman moved into the last 16.

Stompe led after taking the opening leg, hitting a maximum and landing double ten to make a confident start.

But he was punished in the third, missing three darts at a double before Priestley landed double six to break the throw and lead 2-1.

Stompe then missed seven doubles in the next as Priestley scrambled home double one and the two-time World Champion added 180s in the next two in taking a 5-1 cushion.

A 102 finish from Stompe kept him in the contest, but Priestley sealed the win on double 12 to move into round two.

“I was a bit nervous, being first on, and I was never totally comfortable,” said Priestley. “But it’s a win and that’s all that matters!

“I have a day off now so can get some more practice in and get ready for Phil Taylor or Kevin Painter on Friday.”

TERRY JENKINS 6-4 MICK McGOWAN

TERRY JENKINS held off Mick McGowan’s fightback to move into the last 16 of the PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic with a 6-4 victory.

The 2007 runner-up looked set to power through when he took an early 3-0 lead against the Irish qualifier.

But McGowan – who reached the second round two years ago on his only previous Desert Classic appearance – took advantage of some wayward finishing from Jenkins to battle back into the game.

McGowan took the fourth and sixth legs to pull back to 4-2, and five misses from Jenkins allowed him to win the next on double 18 before levelling at four-all on tops.

McGowan landed a maximum in leg nine as he scented a lead for the first time in the game, but a double ten finish saw Jenkins steady his nerves and move a leg away from the win.

The world number five then landed two 180s in the next and took advantage of three misses from McGowan to regain his range on double top and seal victory.

“It was a real battle but I’m pleased to be through,” said Jenkins. “I missed too many doubles and let Mick back in.”

ADRIAN GRAY 6-4 WAYNE MARDLE

ADRIAN GRAY dumped two-time finalist Wayne Mardle out of the PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic with a thrilling 6-4 win at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

The 27-year-old from Sussex – nicknamed “The Conqueror” – dumped Phil Taylor from last year’s World Grand Prix and added another leading name to his list of victims with some assured finishing in Las Vegas.

He took out superb finishes of 156 and 126, on the bullseye, in edging 3-2 ahead before a 96 checkout saw him pull clear at 5-2.

Mardle landed double nine to stay in the game and stepped in after Gray missed three darts for the match in leg nine to land double two and pull back to 5-4.

But the world number ten failed to leave a double in the next after a 180 left him on a finish, and Gray took his chance on double five.

“I’m delighted,” said Gray, who still works as a carpet fitter by trade. “I took out some good finishes but I needed to because Wayne could have gone ahead 4-1.

“It’s great to be through but I’ve always lost in the second round when I’ve qualified before so hopefully I can change that this week.”

MERVYN KING 6-4 JOHN PART

WORLD CHAMPION John Part was knocked out of the PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic with a 6-4 loss to Mervyn King at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

Part had claimed the Desert Classic title two years ago and was bidding for a second win in the event, only to become the second seed to crash out of the event in the first round.

King, who won through Monday’s qualifier at the Mandalay Bay, never looked back after taking a 3-1 lead early on, and held off Part’s fightback to secure his last 16 berth for a second successive year.

“I felt good and am pleased with that,” said King. “I’ve practiced hard for two-and-a-half months and it’s a good start.

“John didn’t play as well as he can and he left me in, but I did enough to get through and had more in my tank.

“He’s a fantastic player but even though he’s World Champion I had to treat him as just another player and I did that.”

Part landed a 180 in taking the opening leg, but King took the next three – including a 100 finish – to lead 3-1.

Misses from King in two of the next three allowed Part to pull back to 4-3, but a crucial 70 from the Englishman – after Part hit a 180 to leave 88 – saw him move 5-3 up.

King missed two darts for the win in the next leg as Part landed double top to keep alive his challenge.

But King swiftly closed out victory, hitting a 180 to pull clear in the next and then taking out double 16.

PHIL TAYLOR 6-4 KEVIN PAINTER

PHIL TAYLOR made a storming start to his bid for a fourth PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic title with a 6-4 win over Kevin Painter.

Painter, who battled through the second qualifier on Tuesday just to win a place in the main event, performed superbly but was simply overpowered by Taylor, who averaged 108.8 in the win to his opponent’s 104.

The 13-time World Champion was 3-0 up following a blistering start, breaking Painter in leg two on double 16 in taking a key advantage.

Painter got off the mark with a fine 11-darter, with Taylor responding in 12 to lead 4-2.

Painter landed a 12-darter to break back, only for Taylor to kick off the next leg with five perfect darts against the throw before moving 5-3 up.

Leg nine also went against the throw, with Painter hitting double 12 for another break as he stayed in the game.

But another maximum from Taylor gave him the edge in leg ten, and double four ensured his place in round two, where he meets Dennis Priestley.

Taylor lost 6-5 to Mark Dudbridge in last year’s first round and admitted that memory helped him to victory this time around.

“Last year’s gone but you do think about it,” he said. “You can only do something about the future and I’m up for it this year.

“Kevin was superb and won some great legs but I had to try and keep my throw – when he had his back against the wall he hit and 11 or 12-darter.

“At 5-4 I couldn’t let him get to five each, especially after what happened last year, and I kicked in.

“If Kevin had played anyone else maybe he’d have gone through but playing on TV, and against me, brings the best out of him.

“It was a cracking average but I’ve got a toughie against Dennis next and I’ll have to average 110 or so to beat him.”

SAM ROONEY 6-5 COLIN LLOYD

QUALIFIER Sam Rooney enjoyed a dream PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic debut with a 6-5 win over Colin Lloyd.

The railway worker from Hampshire, whose only previous televised appearances have come in the UK Open as a pub qualifier, booked his place in the second round of the Desert Classic in dramatic fashion.

He trailed Lloyd 3-1 early on, but took advantage of some wayward finishing to send the former world number one crashing out in the first round for a third successive year in Las Vegas.

The opening three legs went with the throw before a bullseye finish from Lloyd in the fourth saw him secure the first break of throw to lead 3-1.

Rooney hit back to level with a double top finish followed by a two-dart 76 checkout.

Lloyd moved 4-3 up but three misses at double 12 cost him in the next as Rooney squared the match.

Lloyd again edged in front but failed to close out the win in leg ten, missing the single 17 on a 57 finish before missing with one dart at double top.

Rooney hit the same bed to send the match into a decider, and edged clear against the throw to give himself enough cushion to miss five darts for the win before hitting double four.

ROLAND SCHOLTEN 6-4 BARRIE BATES

ROLAND SCHOLTEN came from 3-0 down to book his place in round two of the PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic with a 6-4 win over Barrie Bates.

Scholten seemed on course to follow up a first-game exit in last month’s UK Open with another early defeat in Las Vegas when Bates moved clear early on.

The Welshman won a place in the event through Tuesday’s qualifiers, and continued his run of form to take the opening three legs.

Scholten lifted his scoring to get off the mark on double 16, hit double 18 to break throw in leg five and then took out double four to level.

Bates edged back in front on double ten, but Scholten squared the match again in the eighth before winning the next to lead for the first time in the game at 5-4.

Three 100 scores put him clear in the next, and he checked out 100 to ensure his place in round two.

DARIN YOUNG 6-4 MARTIN BURCHELL

AMERICA’S Darin Young made a steady start to his PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic challenge to edge out Martin Burchell in Wednesday’s final game.

Burchell, a qualifier from Crawley making his Desert Classic debut, came from 3-1 down to push the US number one all the way before seeing his bid ended at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

Young took the game’s first two legs, including a break of throw in the opener, before Burchell got off the mark in the third.

Young defied a 180 from Burchell to take the fourth, only for the Englishman to return the favour in the next, taking out double 12 to pull back to 3-2.

Young landed double top to win the sixth, but both players lost their range on the doubles in the next, with Burchell eventually hitting double five after the American missed nine darts for a 5-2 lead.

The next leg was almost a polar opposite, with Young checking out 158 on double 19 to go 5-3 up and within a leg of victory.

He missed the bullseye for the game in the next leg as Burchell hit double 16 to stay alive, but Young wrapped up the win on double top.

“That was very hard work,” said Young. “I seemed to get it together but then got in a slump and had to work out of it.

“Luckily I came out on top in the end. This is my fifth year and hopefully I can get myself together and get past the second round on Friday.”

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