Robert Thornton produced a sensational upset to stun Phil Taylor and win the Speedy Services UK Open on Sunday night, defeating the world number one 11-5 at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton. Taylor had appeared on course to win a fifth title in 'The FA Cup of Darts' when he powered past Terry Jenkins and Denis Ovens in the latter stages on Sunday. But after taking a 2-0 lead in the final, he had no answer to an inspired barrage from the Scot, who won nine of the next ten legs and hit six 180s in the process of moving 9-3 up as Taylor missed a total of 23 darts at doubles.
The Stoke great hit back to 10-5, but was unable to prevent Thornton from sealing victory in only his second major with a 121 bullseye finish, as he followed up his 2007 World Masters win by taking the £40,000 first prize. The triumph - which followed his earlier wins against Mark Webster, Gary Anderson, Dennis Priestley, Wes Newton and Dave Chisnall - will kick-start Thornton's career, with the Scot having spent two months sidelined last year as he recovered from a bout of pneumonia, and also returns him to the world's top 32 after he had slipped down the PDC Order of Merit.
"It hasn't sunk in what I've done yet," said a delighted Thornton. "When I won the World Masters in 2007 it was a great achievement but to beat Phil Taylor in a televised final is a very special moment in my career. Phil did miss quite a few doubles in the middle of the game and I managed to take the chances that were on offer to me."
Taylor's defeat was only his sixth in a major televised final during his incredible career, and his first in a decider since losing to another Scot, Gary Anderson, in the 2007 World Darts Trophy.
"Robert deserved to win," said Taylor. "I missed a lot of doubles but Robert was the better player. He's come through an incredibly tough draw and beaten the likes of Mark Webster, Gary Anderson and Wes Newton along the way to the final, so that shows he deserves this title."
Taylor kicked off the final in amazing fashion by taking the first two legs in 11 and 12 darts respectively, with Thornton hitting a 180 in each only to see the Stoke ace finish 87 and 44. Taylor missed ten opportunities for a 3-0 lead to allow Thornton to sneak the third on double one, before the Scot produced a fantastic 11-darter to level the match at two-all. Taylor replied with a 180 in a 12-darter to win the fifth, but Thornton landed his third maximum of the game in leg six we he levelled with a 13-darter before he broke throw in leg seven on tops to lead the match for the first time.
Thornton, the 2007 World Masters winner, converted an excellent 106 checkout in the eighth leg to move two legs clear of Taylor at 5-3, before finishing tops for his sixth leg and back-to-back 14-darters as he edged towards his first major PDC title. He then won his seventh successive leg to move 9-3 up after Taylor missed three darts at double 12, before the Stoke star won his first leg in eight by converting a 93 finish for a 12-darter.
Thornton then hit double ten to move a leg away from victory, before Taylor landed double five with his third to keep the match alive at 10-5. Taylor fired in a 174 in the next leg, but two 140s had given Thornton the edge and he crossed the winning line in emphatic style by finishing a superb 121 checkout on the bull to take the title. Thornton's win sees him move from 34th in the PDC Order of Merit back to 23rd, and he admits that the win is a huge boost following the bout of pneumonia which affected him in the second half of last year.
"The pneumonia knocked me back a fair bit," added Thornton, who turns 45 next month. "I was out for a couple of months, but with the support of my kids and my grandkids I got back on my feet and playing again. They lifted me and they didn't give up on me, and I wasn't going to give up. I hope this is the start of good things again for me now. I was 13th in the world a couple of years and I want to get back there and higher!"
Thornton enjoyed a fine semi-final win over Dave Chisnall, who improved on last year's run to the quarter-finals by reaching the last four this time around, but he was unable to repeat the heavy scoring which had helped him see off Raymond van Barneveld earlier on Sunday.
"I'm very disappointed with the semi-final," said Chisnall. "Robert played very well and deserved to win, but the darts didn't go for me. The atmosphere was buzzing and I loved it, and I am pleased to have reached the semi-finals in my second year here. I'll put it behind me and start again in the Players Championships in Birmingham next weekend."
Denis Ovens was the other losing semi-finalist, as he reached the last four for the third successive year in Bolton before losing 10-2 to Taylor. The Stevenage ace has been battling with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome since having to withdraw from the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship with a back problem last Christmas, but admitted: "There's disappointment with losing to Phil but it's mixed emotions for me".
"Three months ago, I hadn't qualified for the UK Open and could hardly throw a dart, so to come here and reach the semi-finals again is great. I seem to love Bolton. I rode my luck a bit against Brendan Dolan and Paul Nicholson but I wasn't good enough against Phil. I enjoyed it but the way he started off didn't leave me with much chance."
Speedy Services UK Open
Phil Taylor 10-2 Denis Ovens
Robert Thornton 10-4 Dave Chisnall
Robert Thornton 11-5 Phil Taylor
Phil Taylor 10-2 Denis Ovens
Phil Taylor remained on course for fifth Speedy Services UK Open title as he breezed into the final with a 10-2 thumping of Denis Ovens at the Reebok Stadium on Sunday night.
Taylor won the first seven legs of the match in superb style without giving Ovens a dart at a double, before going on to win the match in only 31 minutes, ending with a three-dart average of 101.22.
"I made a superb start to the match and I'm delighted to be in the final," said the 15-time World Champion.
"There's a big prize up for grabs and I want to win the tournament. I'm going to go away and prepare myself properly for the final to give myself the best possible chance."
Taylor kicked-off the contest by taking out 112 to win the first leg, and the second was won against the throw with the aid of a 15-dart finish.
Taylor continued the high standard as he hit back-to-back 12-darters to move 4-0 up, and the fifth leg soon fell the same way - this time in just 14 darts.
Taylor continued to stride towards the winning line as he won the next two legs, which included a 103 checkout, before Ovens managed to get a leg on the board when he managed to hit double six.
That winning leg for the Hertfordshire man only briefly stemmed the tide as Taylor won the next two legs to move 9-1 up and put one foot into the final.
Taylor was unusually off-target with three darts at double 16 for the match in the next, and Ovens converted an 81 finish to his slim hopes alive.
The next leg saw Taylor miss three more chances to win the match, but Ovens was unable to capitalise with three darts at double top and Taylor returned to hit double eight for the win.
1-0 - Taylor starts the match in excellent fashion with a 112 finish to take an early lead.
2-0 - Taylor breaks his opponent's throw at the first time of asking with the aid of a 15-dart finish.
3-0 - The world number one hits scores of 140, 140, 139, and follows that by taking out 82 on tops.
4-0 - The relentless pace from the Stoke star continues as he converts another 12-dart finish.
5-0 - Taylor kicks-off the leg with a 180, and wins the leg in 14-darts.
6-0 - The break does nothing to stop Taylor's flow as he takes out 87 to move further clear from Ovens.
7-0 - Taylor converts a 103 finish - his ton-plus finish of the game. Ovens yet to have a shot a double.
7-1 - Ovens lands double six with his third dart to get a leg on the board.
8-1 - Taylor hits double two and moves just a couple of legs away from a place in the final.
9-1 - Taylor records his third 12-dart finish of the match as he successfully hits double eight at the second attempt.
9-2 - Taylor is off-target with three darts at double 16 for the match and Ovens punishes by taking out 81.
10-2 - Taylor misses three more chances to win the match only for Ovens to miss three at tops allowing Taylor to return to hit double eight.
Robert Thornton 10-4 Dave Chisnall
Robert Thornton reached his second PDC major final courtesy of a superb 10-4 victory over the highly-fancied Dave Chisnall at the Speedy Services UK Open.
Thornton, who has battled with pneumonia in the last year and dropped out of the world's top 32, will now face Phil Taylor for the £40,000 first prize at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton following a fine display.
With the match level at two-all, Thornton produced a devastating run by taking seven of the next eight legs to leave Chisnall trailing 9-3.
The St Helens star, attempting to reach his first major PDC final, managed to claw a leg back, but Thornton was not to be denied as he hit double top to seal his place in the decider.
Both players started the semi-final confidently by sharing the first four legs before Thornton secured the first break of the throw in the match with a superb 11-darter, which included back-to-back 180s.
The Scot then won the next two legs, hitting a maximum in each, to move three clear, only to miss ten darts at doubles for a 6-2 lead, allowing Chisnall to step in on double top.
Thornton's put those errors behind him as he recorded finishes of 95 and 78 to take the next two legs and move 7-3 up.
Thornton won the next two legs to move a leg away from victory, but was off-target with two darts to win the game as he allowed Chisnall to hit double eight.
Chisnall had opportunities to keep the match alive in the next, only to miss two darts at doubles which Thornton punished by landing tops at the first attempt to win through to the decider.
1-0 - Chisnall starts the match confidently by holding throw with a 14-dart finish.
1-1 - Thornton takes out 76 to level the match.
2-1 - The St.Helens star converts a 112 checkout to regain the lead.
2-2 - Thornton lands double 12 at the first attempt to win the leg in 13-darts.
2-3 - The Scotsman secures the first break of throw as he produces a fabulous 11-dart finish which includes back-to-back 180s.
2-4 - Thornton kicks-off the leg with a 180 and goes to win it by landing double top at the first attempt.
2-5 - Thornton claims a third leg in a row by hitting double 19 to win the leg in 13-darts.
3-5 - Chisnall snatches the leg by hitting double top after Thornton missed ten chances to take for himself.
3-6 - Thornton puts the errors of the previous leg behind by converting a 95 finish on the bull.
3-7 - Thornton moves four legs clear of his opponent by taking out 78 after Chisnall missed two darts at doubles.
3-8 - Thornton edges close to the winning line as he hits double top at the first attempt.
3-9 - The Scotsman hits double 10 and goes a leg away from reaching the UK Open final.
4-9 - Both players start the leg with 180s before Thornton misses two darts for match allowing Chisnall to hit double eight and stay alive.
4-10 - Chisnall is made to pay for two missed darts at doubles as Thornton hits tops at the first time of asking to win the game.
Robert Thornton 11-5 Phil Taylor
1-0 - Taylor hits scores 134, 140, 140 and takes out 87 to complete an 11-darter.
2-0 - Thornton fires in a second 180 but does get a shot at a double as Taylor takes it in 12-darts.
2-1 - Taylor amazingly misses nine darts at doubles for a 3-0 lead and Thornton gets off the mark by hitting double one with his third dart.
2-2 - Thornton levels up the match in superb style by hitting an 11-dart finish.
3-2 - Thornton kicks-off the leg with a 174 only for Taylor to fire in a 180 and go on to win the leg in 12-darts.
3-3 - Thornton hits his third maximum of the match and wins the leg on double five.
3-4 - Taylor misses a dart at double 16 and Thornton punishes that error by hitting tops to lead for the first time.
3-5 - Thornton converts a superb 106 checkout after Taylor is off-target with another attempt at double 16.
3-6 - Problems on the doubles continue for Taylor as seven chances go begging allowing Thornton in to hit tops.
3-7 - Thornton wins his fifth leg in a row as he lands his favourite double top once again.
3-8 - An 84 finish pushes Thornton closer to the winning line.
3-9 - Taylor misses three darts at double 12 and Thornton cashes in by landing double 20 with his third dart.
4-9 - Both players hit 180s before Taylor takes out 93 to win his first leg in eight.
4-10 - Thornton holds throw by hitting double 10 to go a leg from the claiming the UK Open title.
5-10 - Taylor keeps the match alive by landing double five with his third dart.
5-11 - Thornton hits back-to-back 140s and follows that up with a fantastic 121 checkout, on the bull, to claim his first PDC major title.