Trust in Taylor to get off to a flyer
Sky Sports 2, 7pm Thursday
It's the beginning of the end for Phil Taylor and the greatest darter who ever lived will be desperate to sign off in style.
Impressive wins over Michael Smith and Peter Wright in the Masters at the weekend showed the 56-year-old’s game is still in good shape as he goes into his final full year on the circuit.
Tonight he lines up against Dave Chisnall in Newcastle and looks a decent bet at 5-6.
Chizzy, despite having won all three of his previous Premier League openers, lost in the first round in Milton Keynes, beaten by Raymond van Barneveld, where his finishing let him down. Five doubles out of 20 was never going to cut it and illustrates what remains his Achilles heel.
There is a Premier League return for lowland chuckers Kim Huybrechts and Jelle Klaasen against James Wade and Peter Wright respectively.
Huybrechts comes back to the competition at the end of a modest 2016, while Klaasen’s year was only marginally more productive. Each man kicked off 2017 with a first-round exit at The Masters and they face tough tests simply to get past Week Nine.
Wade should be too strong for the Belgian in the night’s opening duel and there’s also a temptation to take the 13-8 (with the draw no bet) that the left-hander out-maxes Huybrechts. Seeing Wade bang in six 180s in a 10-9 loss to Robert Thornton last Friday was an encouraging sign.
Wright now looks a semi-final contender. He will always hit his share of 180s and it might be worth taking the 11-10 that he hits more of them than Klaasen.
Betway have got the week one 180s in at 33.5. It looks on the high side – there were just 24 on the opening night in Leeds 12 months ago – but if the recent William Hill World Championship taught us anything it’s that the current crop of darting demigods are massive 180 gatherers.
2pts 5-6 Betfair
P Wright most 180s v J Klaasen
1pt 11-10 BoyleSports
J Wade most 180s draw no bet v K Huybrechts
1pt 13-8 Coral