TAYLOR OFF TO WINNING START AT THE O2
Phil Taylor may have spent the last week on his sickbed, but it was Simon Whitlock who had to take the medicine as 'The Power' beat him 8-3 on the opening night of the Premier League.
In front of close to 10,000 people at the O2 Arena, Taylor showed his professionalism by shaking off a virus to win his World Championship rematch with the 'Wizard of Oz.
Also, Raymond van Barneveld looked somewhere near his form of old as he defeated defending champion James Wade 8-5, while Mervyn King beat Adrian Lewis by the same scoreline.
'The Power' was a doubt for the opening night of the new season after being bed-ridden with a virus, but he showed few signs of that as he matched Whitlock dart for dart as they shared the opening six legs.
The break did Taylor good, and he then walked away with the next five legs on the spin to bag an opening night win as he looks to regain the crown he lost last year.
"I'm getting there, I'm absolutely shattered though," Taylor told Sky Sports after his match. "I've got to thank my doctor, who gave me some pills that have made me feel a lot better.
"I'm very drained but I've got six days off now so I can go home and rest.
"I've not thrown a dart for six days now so I'm happy to play like that and win. I had some trouble with my doubles because of a lack of practice, but I think Simon didn't play well - I think he was jetlagged so it was an even match.
"I had the best year any sportsman could ever wish for so to do the same again will be impossible, but I'm focusing on the big tournaments this year and this is certainly one of them."
Barney and Wade, the world number two and three respectively, shared a high-quality opening six legs before the break to go in locked at 3-3.
Wade typically struggled to get back into the game after the break, but Barney was not letting him settle as he took the first two before an 11-darter made it 6-3.
Wade fought back but it was never enough and the Dutch five-time world champion opened his season with a welcome victory, on what was a significant day for his family.
"Is this a place to play darts or what?" said van Barneveld.. "I couldn't lose on my daughters birthday, she turns 16 today so I said I'd win this one for her, so happy birthday!
"This is the level where you want to perform, it's unbelievable the crowds we play to now this season. I'm on a fitness program, I've lost five kilos so far and I'm working out in a boot camp. I'm much fitter so I hope to see the old Barney soon."
Last year's beaten finalist King started his campaign off in style, with a 102 average and devastating finishing seeing him beyond Stoke man Lewis 8-5.
King had three successive legs under 15 darts and took out finishes of 121 and 124 to open up his lead, and a 14-darter gave him the two points.
Ronnie Baxter returned to Premier League action after a four-year absence, and he was left kicking himself after letting a 7-5 lead slip in his draw against Terry Jenkins.
The Rocket and The Bull hit plenty of 180s between them, but it was Baxter who led 6-4 and 7-5 before allowing Jenkins to win the final to legs to grab a point.