RIVALS VAN GERWEN & TAYLOR TO CLASH IN CORAL UK OPEN SEMIS
PHIL TAYLOR and Michael van Gerwen will clash in the Coral UK Open semi-finals after joining Peter Wright and Jelle Klaasen in the last four of the £300,000 tournament on Sunday afternoon.
Reigning UK Open champion van Gerwen continued his bid to claim back-to-back triumphs at the Butlins Minehead Resort with a 10-6 win over plucky amateur Barry Lynn, who had knocked out World Champion Gary Anderson during his run to the quarter-finals.
An explosive start from van Gerwen, including a ten-darter, gave him an early 4-0 lead, with Essex's Lynn - one of the 32 Rileys Qualifiers taking part in the UK Open - hitting back to 7-5 and 8-6 before the Dutchman eventually sealed the win with an 11-dart finish.
"I played okay at the beginning but I didn't play my best game and Barry did well," said van Gerwen. "Fair play to him, he did really well in this tournament.
"I've got to prepare now for the semi-finals and it would be wonderful if I can win this title again tonight."
Van Gerwen was later drawn for a high-profile semi-final clash with great rival Taylor, after the five-time UK Open champion powered past Mark Webster 10-3 with a 105.57 average to continue his fine weekend in Minehead.
Taylor landed a ten-darter of his own as he took a 4-0 lead and also finished 130 and an 11-dart finish as he showed no mercy to the Welsh left-hander.
"Mark didn't play quite as well as I expected and I capitalised but the next game will be different," said Taylor. "It doesn't make a scrap of difference who you play at this stage and it's probably the draw everyone wanted to see.
"I'm after this title and Michael's got a game on his hands tonight."
2015 finalist Peter Wright's bid to win a maiden major title continued as he held off Joe Cullen's fightback from 9-3 down before eventually claiming a high-quality 10-7 win over the Bradford youngster, who had won through to his first major quarter-final.
Wright took out finishes of 99 and 100 with a brace of double tops to bring the 5,000 crowd to its feet either side of a 130 finish by Cullen, and the Scot also took out a key 116 checkout to move to the brink of victory.
Cullen hit back with three successive legs as he took his tally of 180s to nine in the game but a 95 finish from Wright sealed his semi-final spot with a 102 average.
"I finished pretty well and I'm relieved to have won because Joe hurt me with that 130 finish, but I suppose my 116 finish was the same for him," said Wright. "I'll relax for a while now and then get back on the practice board ahead of the semi-finals."
Wright now meets Jelle Klaasen, who raced into the semi-finals for the first time in the UK Open with a 10-0 whitewash of Australian ace Kyle Anderson, who had also reached the last eight in a ranking major for the first time only to be limited to six darts at doubles in a clinical display from the Dutch star.
"I think I was a little bit lucky that Kyle missed the chances he had and his scoring wasn't there, but I'm happy with the way I played because my finishing was good and my scoring was good," said Klaasen. "I'm confident for the semi-finals and I'm happy."
The weekend was particularly memorable for Braintree's 28-year-old Lynn, who had won seven games at the Rileys South Benfleet club just to qualify before five more wins secured a dream clash with world number one van Gerwen.
He takes home £10,000 in prize money for reaching the quarter-finals, and admitted: "Playing Michael on stage was amazing. I loved it but it was hard at the beginning and the pressure got to me.
"Michael's just class and to see him doing his business against me is absolutely unbelievable. I truly belive that this is the start of something special.
"I'm happy with the way I've played and I've shown signs over the last three days that I could compete with the best, but it's still going to take an awful lot of work and experience to get there. I believe in two years time that I could be up there with them playing week-in, week-out."
Cullen also enjoyed a fine weekend as he reached his maiden TV quarter-final, and he admitted: "Fair play to Peter, he took the finishes when he had to take them, which is what these top players do.
"There was one leg which stood out for me, the ninth, where I missed four or five darts at double ten. To have been 5-4 instead of 6-3 was a massive difference, especially at this stage."
Sunday's semi-finals - which begin at 7pm live on ITV4 - will be followed by the decisive final at the Butlins Minehead Resort in Somerset, with the winner set to claim a £60,000 first prize.