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TAYLOR AND HOWAT RETAIN TITLES

Jay Tomlinson reports from Montreal where Phil Taylor and Chrissy Howat gave everyone a distinct feeling of deja vu.

Day three began with all players knowing where they were positioned on the bracket and who they had to play.† Some nervousness was exhibited by those who landed the honors of playing top ranked players.† Most were extremely pleased to be through the round robin sections successfully.† Everyone seemed ready having had a good meal the night before and a good night of rest, as all matches in the round robin were completed by 6:00 PM the day before.

The format of the day for the men would be 2 of 3 legs, best of 5 sets, all 501.† The women would play 2 of 3 legs, best of 3 sets, all 501.† The final 64 menís matches are shown below.† Three matches most spectators gathered to watch in this early round were those of Peter Manley versus Shayne Burgess, Alan Warriner versus Chris Mason, and Rod Harrington and Reg Harding.

Burgess played brilliant hitting 140 after 140 after 140 againT Manley.† But Manley was unbeatable.† "Iíd hit 140, 140, 140, look up and heíd be out," said Burgress.† "180, 140, 140, and heíd be out.† I never had a shot."

The Harrington and Harding match was uncharacteristically one sided.† Harding was hitting ever double he reached, whether it was from 32 or 72.† Harrington reached the double many times, but was just off the mark.† "Missing 9 darts at double isnít going to win many games," a disappointed Harrington commented.† He scored well, but had trouble finishing.

Second round, 32 going to 16, Bob Anderson had to take on Reg Harding and played quite well winning 3 sets to 1.† "Not bad for an old fart," exclaimed Anderson.† "Harding threw well, but I had 3 12 dart games and managed to hit my doubles.† This is probably going to be my last year as a professional player.† Iím 55 now and I think itís time.† Iím getting tired."

The game of the tournament occurred in the second round, Lionel Sams against Ronnie Baxter.† Sams was leading two sets to one and the games were one each in the fourth set.† Sams opened 180, 180 while Baxter hit 140,140.† "I wasnít thinking about a nine darter," said Sams, "I was just thinking about taking this game.† The darts just flew in there.† There was no question they werenít going in, 141 finish.† Itís something Iíve wanted to do for a long time."† A nine dart perfect game to defeat Baxter in round two, and he didnít get a check for it either† Players passed the hat and collected close to $400 and gave it to him recognizing his achievement.

John Part has been perfect through two round, winning 3 nil both matches.† "I feel like I feel at every tournament.† I feel I can win," said Part, "I hope I do!"† He didnít.† Out in the next round against Roland Scholten.

Alex Roy could have had Taylor in the second round.† "I lost 3 sets to nil, but I should have had him down 2 sets to 1," Roy exclaimed.† "I had 3 darts at double 20 and all three were touching the wire.† I couldnít see how any of them werenít in.† Then, I wired the 32.† Taylor said to me, ĎYouíve let me win again.í† I told him I wouldnít let him win in Saskatoon and he said, ĎI hope I donít have to play you,í and he went off smiling."

Mick Manning reached the semi final to meet Phil Taylor.† Manning was very† good, but Taylor is Taylor, after all.† The match went 3 nil to Taylor.† "It was a good game," Manning said.† "Iím happy reaching the semi final.† I really needed the points.† If someone told me the results this morning, I would have taken them.† Philís a great player."

In the other semi final, Bob Anderson was up against a feisty Jamie Harvey.† They traded sets until it was 2 set each.† Then they traded games, Anderson taking the first and Harvey answering with a nice 15 darter that could have been 13 (T,97,T,180,24), leaving the balance of the match to one final game.†Anderson won the start and opened with 45.† Harvey, keeping his good form, answered with 140.† Then they both developed a case of nerves.† Neither could find a triple, and when they reached the double, they couldnít find that either.†

A full 27 darts later, Anderson finished the match with a double 8.† Harvey could only shake his head at what might have been.

Lisa Wetton seemed to breeze through the womenís consolation if you just look at the results, 4-0, but Brenda Dietrich reached the double first in three of the four legs.† "I was very nervouse up on stage," explained Dietrich.†

"Everytime I shot at the double, all I wanted to hear was Russ Bray saying ĎGame Shot,í but he never did.† I wanted to get some tournament experience, and I definitely did,† My hands are still shaking."† Wetton was thrilled to be on stage.† All the way over from England, she was dead on with her double shots, "This is the first time Iíve played here and I think itís excellent," said Wetton.† "Very well organized.† Iíd like to thank all those who supported me all weekend."

In the menís consolation, Jerry Van Loan from New York, was pitted against John King, over from England.† Van Loan took the first leg and King leveled the match.† Van Loan took the next two legs to jump to a 3 games to 1 lead.† King fought back to again level the match at 3 games each.† It was down to one leg for the match and Van Loan got the start.

He started with 68, 100, 81, 98, 40, 44, and King answered with 125, 41, 40, 100, 26, 87.† With King sitting on 82, he took home the game and match with a timely 70 finish.† "John played well and I almost let him take the match," Said Van Loan, "but I came up with a very big double top to take the final leg."

The womenís final was between Tina DiGregorio and Crissy Howat.† Howat was two time defending champion defeating Guylaine Levesques of Quebec last year in the final.† DiGregorio met Levesques in the semi final match and defeated her this year in a very close game that went to the last leg of the final set.† DiGregorio shot a timely 14 darter to take the match and prevent a repeat of last yearís final.

In the final, Crissy showed no quarter, but Tina could not find the form she had in the semi final match against Levesques.† Howat three-peated, taking the match in two straight sets.† "The 3rd timeís a charm, but the pressure to win was still great," commented Howat.† "I donít wish any disrespect to Tina, but she really didnít play as well as she can.† She was in my section in the round robin competition and gave me a very good game which went 3-2.† I know sheís not happy with how she played on stage.†

"It was great to see how much support I had from the local people here in Quebec.† Iím really very happy.† Itís a good warm up for next week."† When asked if weíd see her next year here her response was, "I guess you will!"

Phil Taylor and Bob Anderson squared off in the fianl match of the evening.† Anderson was terrific through the whole tournament rising to each challenge along the way, but Taylor was terrific too, and took the first set 2-nil to prove it.† Anderson opened the second set and took the first leg.†

After 15 darts in the second leg, he had a shot at double tops with three darts.† The opportunity to take that set slipped by when his third dart dropped below the double.†

Taylor went on to take the set and finished in powerful style with 12 and 13 dart games consecutively.† "Itís a big thing for me to come here to Quebec and win for the second year in a row," said Taylor. "Itís a big tournament, with world ranking points, and they do such a good job here.† I enjoyed myself here.† Iím now looking forward to Saskatoon."†

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