Diary of a Darts Player with Andy Relf – Practicing with Phil Taylor and taking on John Part!

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AFTER a nightmare seven-hour journey to Barnsley last weekend, it was up early on Saturday for the first UK Open Qualifier of the weekend.

So, with practice done, it was a first round match against Steve Farmer.

Steve is a quality player, but these days I don’t get daunted by that.

As our match started, I was feeling pretty good and scoring well, but so was Steve.

I missed chances where I could have taken a 2-0 lead, but missing doubles meant I was 2-0 down instead.

Then came the hammer blow… Steve started the leg wih a 180, followed by another 180. He then hit 60, 57 and 24 to claim the nine-dart leg.

That could have worked in my favour, but he remained calm and sealed the victory. Well at least I made most of the headlines that day!

Saturday evening a few of us had a meal in the hotel to celebrate my wife’s birthday; we had a really good night, with Justin Pipe putting me to shame by bringing in a bunch of flowers for her.

On to Sunday, and me and Pipey went into a separate practice room, where we were soon joined by some guy called Taylor. Apparently he’s quite good... 15-time World Champion or something?

After a few throws we split into two pairs, Justin and another lad against me and Phil (I was fairly happy with my partner).

Anyway, we played chase around the board on doubles, and it was a huge confidence-builder partnering the best in the world. We won after about an hour, and I was hitting doubles with similar consistency to Mr Taylor, so that felt really good.

I then had a prelim round match against Irish player Keith Rooney. I knew he could play, as he’d had two darts the previous day to knock out Phil Taylor himself!

I started well, and soon found myself 3-0 up.

He pulled one back, but I pushed on to win 6-2. I’d played really well, and was feeling so good.

Next up a small matter of another pretty handy player – three-time World Champion John Part! My draws are so easy!

I started confidently again, and found myself 3-1 up in legs. Missed doubles in two further legs cost me, and John clawed back to win the match.

I had a good chat with John afterwards, and it was nice to hear that I’ve moved up a level in many players’ eyes.

I might be getting beaten, but I’m not making it easy for them… perhaps the tide is turning.

Finally, congratulations to our Wheel team vice captain Sheebo, who, after being the sole loser last week, managed to win through to the final of the Captains Cup.