PHIL TAYLOR’S incredible run of success continued with glory in the William Hill Grand Slam of Darts for a fifth time on Sunday night, as he swept past Robert Thornton 16-6 in the final.
The World Champion’s amazing 2013 continued as he followed up wins in the UK Open, World Matchplay, Sydney Masters, World Grand Prix and The Masters with a seventh major televised title as he took the £100,000 first prize in Wolverhampton.
Taylor followed up his stunning semi-final triumph over Adrian Lewis – in a game labelled by pundits as the greatest ever as the pair hit 32 180s and both averaged over 109 – with a dominant performance in the final to see off Thornton.
Thornton had seen off Scott Waites 16-9 in their semi-final earlier in the day, but missed nine darts at a double in the final’s opening leg and never recovered as Taylor opened up a 5-0 lead in the blink of an eye.
Taylor stepped in to take the opening leg on double four, finished 76 and 121 to take the next two and then punished further misses from the Scot to land double six and double two to win five unanswered legs.
Thornton hit a 180 and finished 81 to get off the mark in leg six, and took out 116 and 121 as he pulled back to trail just 8-3.
Taylor, though, hit double eight and tops to win the next two before producing a hammer blow in the 14th leg, taking out a majestic 164 finish with Thornton waiting on 36.
Thornton hit tops and double ten to win back-to-back legs for the first time in the game, and after Taylor replied on double 16, a 90 finish saw him pull back to 12-6 and threaten a comeback.
A 98 finish, on double 19, saw Taylor restore his edge before he punished a miss from Thornton at tops, for a 116 finish, allowed the Stoke great in to hit double 16 in moving two legs from victory.
Double ten saw Taylor edge towards glory, and when Thornton missed the bullseye to take out 83, the world number one finished 64 on double four to seal another imperious triumph and a fourth successive major televised title.
“I’m gobsmacked,” said Taylor. “It was a tough field and this wasn’t an easy title to win.
“It’s been a very tough day and a long day. The semi-finals probably took a lot out of us, and the final was never going to be a big fiery final, but it was still a good performance.
“The game against Adrian is probably the best game I’ve ever played in my career – it was a belter. It was like a blur because we were both concentrating so hard, and it was blow for blow.
“Robert put the pressure on himself in the final and he shouldn’t have been 5-0 down, but that set the precedent for the match because he was the better player in the first five legs and I was 5-0 up.
“I’m very chuffed with the whole tournament because it’s been a great event. The atmosphere’s been great, the crowd have been great and some of the players have really come back to form, like Robert, James Wade and Gary Anderson.
“The players are all building up to the World Championship, and I’ve got an eye on that too.”
Thornton had overcome Taylor as he won the 2012 UK Open title, and admitted: “That’s probably a bit of revenge for Phil and we’re one-each now!
“I missed a few doubles at the start, and Phil took advantage of that. It’s hard to come back from 5-0, and it was a little bit too late when the darts started to come, but that’s darts for you.
“My overall performances were steady and it’s hard to put into words what it means to reach the semi-finals and final. I think I surprise myself sometimes!
Thornton had become a grandfather again earlier when his daughter gave birth to a boy, who was named Robert.
“I can’t wait to get home tomorrow and get to hold him for the first time,” said Thornton. “He’s been named after me and seeing him will be the proudest moment of my life.”
William Hill Grand Slam of Darts
Sunday November 17
Phil Taylor 16-6 Robert Thornton
Best of 31 legs
Phil Taylor v Robert Thornton
1-0 – Thornton is first to a finish, but misses the bull for a 121 checkout and a further eight darts at doubles, allowing Taylor to hit double four – with his fourth dart to take the opening leg – as he takes first blood.
2-0 – Taylor finishes 76 to take the game’s second leg.
3-0 – Taylor wins a third successive leg by taking out 121 on double eight.
4-0 – Taylor misses the bull for another 121 checkout, but Thornton misses a dart at tops for a 110 finish as the Stoke ace returns on double six.
5-0 – Taylor lands a 177, and though he initially misses darts at the bullseye, double eight and double four, Thornton is off-target on double top and with two darts at double ten to allow the world number one back in on double two.
5-1 – Thornton hits the game’s first 180 and takes out 81 on double 12 to get off the mark.
6-1 – Double eight sees Taylor regain his cushion.
6-2 – Thornton takes out 116 to claim his second leg of the final.
7-2 – Taylor hits his first maximum before landing double eight to win leg nine.
8-2 – Taylor lands another 180 before taking out 89 to move six legs clear.
8-3 – Thornton finishes 121 to reply with his third leg of the match.
9-3 – Double eight sees Taylor regain his cushion over the Scot.
10-3 – Taylor takes out 65 on tops to pull away.
11-3 – Thornton hits a 140 to leave 36, but Taylor superbly takes out 164 with two treble 19s and the bullseye for another hammer blow.
11-4 – Thornton finishes 66 on tops to hit back.
11-5 – Thornton takes out double ten to win back-to-back legs for the first time in the final.
12-5 – Taylor fires in double 16 to move three-quarters of the way to the title.
12-6 – Thornton takes out 90 on tops to remain in the hunt.
13-6 – Taylor finishes 98 on double 19 to continue his charge towards another Wolves Civic triumph.
14-6 – Thornton hits a 180 to leave 116, with Taylor missing the bull for a 126 finish before the Scot misses tops to complete a 116 combination, with the Stoke star stepping in on double 16 to move two legs from victory.
15-6 – Double ten sees Taylor move to the brink of glory once again.
16-6 – Thornton misses the bullseye to finish 83, and Taylor takes out double four to complete a sensational triumph.