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SO FAR...IN SASKATOON


The story so far...draw doubles and Saturday's qualifying...

Thursday - Draw Doubles:

 

The format was the best of five legs of 501, knockout competition.  A total of 384 participants paired up to make 192 teams.  Some of the early favorites who lost first round matches include:  Andy Jenkins/Debbie Tyson, Peter Evison/Kate Slater, Dan Lauby/Jim Crooks, Eric Bristow/Mary Slater, Phil Taylor/Les Berni, Keith Deller/Eleanor Kolisnyk, Rod Harrington/Joanne McLeod, and Shayne Burgess/Gayl King.

John Lowe paired up with Rick Stephenson, a veteran player from San Antonio, Texas and drew a bye in the preliminary round.  Their first match was against Jeff Collier and Jake Deragon.  Surviving the all-important first round, they faced Jason Jarvis and Bruce Buxton.  Advancing past Jarvis and Buxton, Eugene Earnshaw  and Hans Martense were their next victims.  With this victory, Lowe and Stephenson were in the money at the top 16 level.

It was a long night for Stephenson and Lowe as they worked their way through the top sixteen teams to finally end up in the finals against the Canadian team of Greg Rogers and Linda Ledingham.  Three wins later and they were the champions.  Their reward, $2,400 for their efforts.  A good way to start the tournament.

Singles - Day One: 

Tension was building for the first round of play at the Golden Harvest North American Cup in the singles events.  This day would see the players divided into groups for round robin competition.  The format was best of 3 games of 501, best of 5 sets.  All sets won and games won were recorded to establish seeding for the next day, and ultimately, the final seeding for the knockout money rounds on Sunday.

The men were divided into 26 groups of 9 or 10 players in each group.  The women had 16 groups of 7 or 8 players.  Based on the PDC, NDFC, ADO, BEN and other rankings, the organizers established the top seeds and spread them equally through the groups.  Future seeding would depend on the results of play this day.

At the end of an 8 hour day of constant play, defending champion Phil Taylor and Scot, Jamie Harvey, were the only top seeds that had not lost a single game through the entire competition. 

Taylor hit 17 maximum scores on the day, the most of all players.  Roland Scholten of the Netherlands lost only one game, Alan Warriner only two.  Other players who made it through their groups winning 100% of their matches included, in winning percentage order, Peter Evison, Rod Harrington, Dave Askew, John Lowe, Colin Lloyd, Ritchie Burnett, Eric Bristow, Chris White, Terry OíConnell, Steve Brown, Yves Chamberland, John Part, Keith Deller, Ken Woods, Shayne Burgess Paul Williams, Doug Scanlon, and Garry Spedding.

On the womenís side of the groups, Canadian, Patricia Farrell was the only one perfect on the day winning every game she played.  Carolyn Mars, Nancy Johnson, and Trina Gulliver each lost only one game.  Only five other women went undefeated in match play and they included, in winning percentage order, Kristina Korpi, Vicky Pruim, Tricia Wright, defending champion Chrissy Howat, Gayl King.  Francisca Hoenselaar, Darlene Marriott, Sandra Pollett, and Stacy Bromberg each dropped only one set through the competition.

These players are the top seeds for Saturdayís round robin group play. 

New groups were established at the end of the day for Saturday play based on the winning percentage of all the players.  The top 26 players become the number one seeds in the 26 menís groups.  Player 27 joins group 26 as the number two seed as they move down the list.  Player 52 is the number two seed in group one and player 53 also joins group one.  This process repeats until all men are assigned to new groups for Saturday play.  The womenís groups are created in the same fashion.  Bottom line, everyone will have a second day of qualifying in round robin competition against different players.

At the beginning of the competition, Rod Harrington said, ďIím really nervous.  I always am at the start of the tournament.  Itís got nothing to do with the format, itís all about playing other dart players.  Iíve got to get up for it.  The fact that itís a round robin, has nothing to do with it.  You canít relax.  The organizers, or I should say, the draw has been very lenient with me for the first day.  If I do well today in the qualifiers, I hope to get an easier game on Sunday for the first one or two rounds.  By the time I get to the third round, I want to be in my rhythm.Ē

Roland Scholtenís views were a bit more relaxed, ďIím here first of all for the money and second for the points.  The group sessions are good practice for the main knockout.  Back home itís just basic knockout.  The tournament is well run and I always look forward to coming to Saskatoon for this event.Ē

When asked how he faired for the day, Eric Bristow answered, ďI won all my matches.  Thatís what I came here to do, isnít it?Ē

Peter Evison had a very good showing on the day finishing fifth overall in the standings.  His comments on why he was doing so well were, ďThis morning, I was in the gym at 6:00 am and practicing at half seven.  My group today wasnít easy.  Graham Stoddart was the number one seed, so when you have to play someone of that caliber you have to up your game.  Stoddart shouldnít have been the number one seed because I am ranked in the top sixteen and he is not.  In addition to his, I won the rest of my matches, hit ten 180s, and lost only one set and five games altogether.  If I do as well tomorrow, I should have a good seed on Sunday.Ē

Evison continued, ďThis tournament is the best in the North America.  Next year they are increasing the number of players and I think it has to be good for the tournament.  If anyone can make it bigger, itís Ken Finch.  He has everything going for him.Ē

Harrington picked up on Evisonís theme stating, ďThis is a very good tournament.  We come out here for the money and we like the format.  Next year the organizers are increasing the number of players who can enter, and I have no problem with that.  It may give me more time to get into the groove.  It may help the amateur game, and we need that desperately.  The pro game is in a league of itís own, but itís probably 5 years away from being recognized worldwide as a pro circuit.Ē

ďIíve challenged the PDC to develop a professional tour,Ē continued Harrington, ďwith a professional ranking system that makes sense worldwide.  Iíve already received information from the golf tour, tennis tour, and snooker tour to take the best of their rules, regulations, events, format, how and why they can bring in sponsors in, etc. to help develop a worldwide professional darts circuit that will advance the game.  These other sports have pro programs that are tried and tested, so letís follow those who have it right, copy it, and make it work for darts.Ē

Alan Warriner went through losing only two games and remaining undefeated in set and match competition.   Jose Dela Cruz gave Warriner the toughest match of the day in his group going three games in each of the two sets.The combination of the Friday and Saturday group play will result in a final seeding for the knockout competition. 

Everyone plays on Sunday, and it remains to be seen who will survive...

By Jay Tomlinson

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