10-07-2013

So as the 2013 Speedy UK Open presents another major title to perhaps the world’s greatest darts player, Phil Taylor, we reflect on another superb competition. It’s been a busy four days for the players – on some days, playing three matches a day – but also for the organisers, and of course the fans.

And boy, have they been put through the mill! Even the most vocal were at times reduced to heads in hands as their favourites failed to score or missed their double to let opponents steal the arrows. Perhaps one of the headline stories of the tournament was how close the matches were, particularly on the final two days – no white washes here!

And as the top seeds played cat and mouse with one another, it became clear that no one could be written off. The final day was set up for some cracking quarter-finals day, but honestly, all eyes were on just one of the clashes: Phil Taylor against Michael Van Gerwen. Everyone was buzzing: no one cared at when they met, just so long as they did. In the end though, MVG failed to bring his A game, and Taylor marched through to the evening 10-7 where he beat the striking Snakebite, Peter Wright, 10-5. With the programme running slightly behind – the price you pay for long, tight matches – it was late into Sunday night when Taylor made his distinctive entrance alongside Stoke counterpart Andy Hamilton for the final at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton.

As it happened, this was one of shorter matches as Taylor claimed his fifth Speedy Services UK Open title in thrilling fashion, defeating Hamilton 11-4. Scooping £40,000 prize money, Taylor heaped praised on Hamilton, organisers and sponsors of the competition dubbed 'The FA Cup of Darts'."I'm very proud of winning this title and it's great to be the champion for a fifth time," said Taylor.

Hamilton had won through to the final with a dramatic 10-9 defeat of two-time UK Open champion Raymond van Barneveld in the semis, with the Dutchman missing the bullseye for a 170 checkout to claim victory before then missing a further five match darts in the deciding leg.

"I couldn't be any prouder of myself," said Hamilton, who earns £20,000 as runner-up. "I've played some great darts and had a great weekend and I'm happy with what I've done tonight.

"If someone had said at the start of the week that I'd get to the final, I'd have taken that but I'll be back. The Speedy UK Open's probably the hardest tournament to win and I didn't play badly in the final but Phil played out of his skin and I take my hat off to him. He's a legend and he was on top of his game.”

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