DELIGHT FOR HOME HOPE ANDERSON AS TABTOUCH PERTH DARTS MASTERS KICKS OFF
KYLE ANDERSON delighted the home crowd on day one of the TABtouch Perth Darts Masters as he reached the quarter-finals with a 6-5 win over Stephen Bunting at the HBF Stadium.
The PDC World Series of Darts event in Perth kicked off with the first round as eight top PDC stars took on eight Oceanic representatives, and it was Perth's Anderson who caused a shock against Bunting.
Anderson - whose emergence has seen him qualify recently for the World Matchplay in Blackpool to follow up three World Championship appearances - started strongly as he raced into a 3-0 lead against the English ace.
Bunting responded superbly, taking five of the next seven legs to force a decider, but paid for missing one match dart to complete a stunning comeback as Anderson held his nerve to take out double 15 and set up a quarter-final against defending Perth Darts Masters champion Phil Taylor on Saturday.
"I've been here for three weeks now and I feel really settled," said Anderson, who has been based mainly in the UK while competing on the PDC circuit since winning a Tour Card 18 months ago.
"It's great to be playing in front of my friends and family again. The guys are going to have to be careful because they are on my turf now!"
Taylor began the defence of his title with a 6-1 victory against New Zealand's Craig Caldwell, despite having suffered from illness in the build-up to the event after arriving in Australia.
The Stoke great, who turned 55 on Thursday, landed back-to-back 14-darters as he moved 3-0 up before taking out 130 on the bull for a 12-darter to lead by four legs.
He also kicked off the fifth with two 180s, but after missing out on a possible nine-darter he went on to lose the leg as Caldwell posted double eight.
However, Taylor swiftly ended Caldwell's hopes with another brace of 14-dart finishes to seal the victory and move through to a meeting with the home favourite on Saturday.
"Craig put me under a lot of pressure, and after I missed the nine-darter the crowd started to get on my back which made things slightly more difficult. I've been ill for the last couple of days and so I won't be going to see any kangaroos, it's more important that I get my rest ahead of Saturday."
World number one Michael van Gerwen survived a light fightback from David Platt as he secured a 6-4 victory from their first round clash.
Van Gerwen looked to be on course for a record televised average as he started in scintillating form, kicking off with seven perfect darts before landing an 11-darter in the opening leg before racing into a 4-1 lead.
Platt, though, refused to be beaten though as he secured three of the next four legs to reduce the gap to just one leg at 5-4 before van Gerwen found his form again to break in the final leg, landing tops to wrap up the win, ending with a 105.69 average.
"Dave is a good player and it was a very tough game," said van Gerwen, who claimed the World Matchplay title three weeks ago in his last outing.
"I want to do a lot better tomorrow but I did enough tonight. I feel great, I've got a feeling that I can win this tournament but there are a lot more games to do and I'll have to improve."
Van Gerwen will now face fellow Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld in the quarter-finals, after the five-time World Champion produced a fine display to defeat Australian favourite Simon Whitlock 6-3 with a 102.96 average.
Van Barneveld landed two maximums and a 106 checkout during the high-quality encounter, before securing the win with a 13-darter.
"As soon as the draw came out and I saw I was playing Simon I knew I would have to focus as he is the best you can face in Australia," said van Barneveld. "Luckily I played well, hit my doubles and got a good win."
World Champion Gary Anderson was in similarly strong form as he whitewashed Kim Lewis 6-0 to hand the experienced Australian qualifier defeat on his PDC debut.
Anderson recovered from a shaky start to storm into a 5-0 lead, before landing his biggest finish of the game with a 126 checkout to wrap up the win with a 12-darter.
World Matchplay runner-up James Wade kicked off the tournament with an impressive 6-1 victory against qualifier Adam Rowe
After swapping blows in the opening stages, Wade kicked on to take the final five legs and comfortably seal his spot in the quarter-finals.
Adrian Lewis enjoyed a similarly smooth path into the quarter-finals as he disposed of current DPA Australian Grand Prix number one Loz Ryder 6-1, with a brilliant 123 checkout on the bull in leg five being the highlight of his display.
Japan Darts Masters runner-up Peter Wright completed the quarter-final line-up as he defeated Paul Nicholson 6-2.
Wright stormed out of the blocks as he raced into a 5-0 lead before Nicholson finally found some form to take the next two legs.
The Scot, though, would hit back again as he landed double 14 in the following leg to secure the victory.
"It was great to win today in front of such a brilliant crowd here," said Wright. "Paul is a good friend of mine and that did make things slightly harder though.
"I have been working hard on starting strongly over recent months and I did that today, which was very pleasing."
Saturday's quarter-finals will see Wright take on Wade before the all-Dutch clash between van Gerwen and van Barneveld, while Taylor takes on Kyle Anderson before Gary Anderson meets Lewis.