Premier League Darts 2014: Beginning of the End for Taylor in Exeter

Jason PettigroveContributor IMarch 7, 2014

Phil Taylor's rotten form continues.
Phil Taylor's rotten form continues.Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

The Premier League juggernaut rolled into Exeter on Thursday and, once again, darts fans were treated to some incredible action and high-class arrows from the world's best.

Now in it's 10th year, Barry Hearn's brainchild has become something of a national institution with over 100,000 fans expected to have attended by the time of the final show in May at London's O2 arena.

Simon Whitlock arrived at Exeter's Westpoint Arena propping up the table and desperate for a decent showing to get his assault on the upper echelons back on track.

Robert Thornton proved a worthy opponent, taking the match to the Australian as he burst into a 5-3 lead, however, Whitlock was in no mood to walk away empty handed yet again.

Four legs in a row saw Whitlock home, and an astonishing seven doubles in a row even surprised the man himself, per PDC.TV:

It's one of the best feelings I've ever had, I've got tears in my eyes.

I've had a few problems in the past month, with an ear infection and illness, but I never give up and people should never doubt me.

My finishing was amazing and I had no idea it was seven out of seven - I'm just glad I hit seven doubles.

The win saw Whitlock draw level on two points with 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor whose wretched run of poor form continues.

Gary Anderson condemned "The Power" to a fourth defeat in five games (highlights below), something that would've been unthinkable this time last year.


Matt Bozeat of the Stoke Sentinel says fans and experts have offered excuses for Taylor's erratic form ranging from his astonishing weight loss to a change of arrows. Taylor himself is having none of it:

The darts are superb. I have changed my stems and tried a different stance, but I've had a mental block.

I've had it in the past and it will come right. During the year you will see a better Phil Taylor. I'm going to do everything I can.

Taylor had the chance to draw the match at 6-6 but missed his double with the two remaining darts. Anderson took full advantage and checked out with a masterful 97 finish.

Despite any protestations to the contrary, the 53-year-old Taylor has lost his edge.

What has made him the player he is—a truly unshakable belief in his own ability—appears to have deserted him, and is now in danger of derailing his entire 2014 campaign, and potentially his career.

Just under four months ago, Taylor took on World Champion Adrian Lewis in the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton.

His 16-9 triumph on the night saw his average peak at 109.76. Lewis' marginally better 110.99 saw the two set the highest combined average ever, per Sky Sports.

The match also featured 32 maximums, also a record for a PDC match.

You wouldn't dare dream that Taylor could get anywhere close to that sort of excellence just now.

It will be a sad day when Phil Taylor does decide to bow out of a sport he has served with great distinction.

But there is a sense of inevitability that we are now witnessing the slow and painful demise of one of the greatest sportsman the United Kingdom has ever seen.