Taylor health scare ahead of Blackpool darts swansong

Phil Taylor
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Phil Taylor has withdrawn from this week’s US Darts Masters on medical advice to boost his chances of being fully fit for his Blackpool swansong this month.

The oche great, due to make his farewell appearance in the World Matchplay at the Winter Gardens, took ill at last week’s Shanghai Masters, losing in the quarter-finals to eventual winner Michael van Gerwen.

Having been examined by a doctor, Taylor chose to return home rather than fly on to Las Vegas for this week’s Professional Darts Corporation event.

The World Matchplay starts in Blackpool on Saturday week and Taylor has stated that this will be his final outing in his beloved event, which he won 15 times in 20 years from 1995-2014. ‘The Power’ was world champion 14 times during the same period.

Taylor, who turns 57 next month, apologised to fans in the US but explained: “I began to feel unwell on Wednesday morning and it didn’t get any better over the next couple of days.

“I was thinking about whether I could even play in China but I got through it and did my best against Michael on Friday.

“The doctor said it wasn’t a good idea for me to get on a plane for such a long time (to Vegas) and my last Blackpool is so important to me, so I reluctantly decided to travel home.

“I really want to be at my best for the Matchplay, which has always been my favourite tournament, and I couldn’t take any risks with more travelling and spending a week in the heat.”

The draw for the nine-day World Matchplay is to be made today, involving the top 16 in the PDC order of merit and 16 qualifiers.

The final qualifying players were decided at the Players’ Championships in Barnsley over the weekend.

Darren Webster sealed his place in Blackpool by winning Saturday’s tournament. The Norwich thrower defeated Daryl Gurney 6-1 in the final.

Webster had edged out Fleetwood’s Wes Newton 6-5 en route to winning his first ranking tournament for 12 years.

Yesterday’s Players’ Championship at the same venue was won by Joe Cullen from Bradford, who defeated Zoran Lerchbacher 6-4 in the final.

Cullen, who has also won through to Blackpool, hopes his success will boost his father’s recovery from a heart attack last week.

The line-up for the World Matchplay is now complete:

World top 16: 1 Michael van Gerwen, 2 Gary Anderson, 3 Peter Wright, 4 Adrian Lewis, 5 Dave Chisnall, 6 James Wade, 7 Mensur Suljovic, 8 Phil Taylor, 9 Raymond van Barneveld, 10 Jelle Klaasen, 11 Michael Smith, 12 Kim Huybrechts, 13 Ian White, 14 Robert Thornton, 15 Benito van de Pas, 16 Simon Whitlock

Qualifiers: Daryl Gurney, Alan Norris, Joe Cullen, Rob Cross, Mervyn King, Gerwyn Price, Cristo Reyes, Stephen Bunting, Darren Webster, Steve Beaton, James Wilson, Steve West, Kyle Anderson, John Henderson, Christian Kist, Justin Pipe