BIG NAMES TUMBLE ON OPENING DAY OF CORAL UK OPEN
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN, Peter Wright, Raymond van Barneveld and Adrian Lewis all crashed out of the Coral UK Open on the opening day as the 2018 tournament began at the Butlin's Minehead Resort.
The 350,000 pound tournament has been forced to be held behind closed doors in Minehead with the effects of Storm Emma preventing Butlin's from opening the complex to the general public, but lived up to its reputation with some huge shocks on day one.
World number one Van Gerwen, a two-time UK Open winner and the odds-on pre-tournament favourite, came unstuck as Dutch rival Jeffrey de Zwaan produced the biggest win of his career in a 10-8 success.
Van Gerwen led 5-4 in the middle of a tight match, but De Zwaan took three of the next four to regain the advantage before closing out the win.
"I can't believe it, I think I'm still dreaming," said De Zwaan. "It's one of the biggest wins of my career but I've played really well for a few months."
Reigning UK Open champion Wright was knocked out by teenager Nathan Rafferty, who is making his debut in a televised tournament.
The 18-year-old from Coalisland followed up a 6-3 defeat of Rileys Amateur Qualifier Jason Mold in round two with the biggest win of his career to overcome the world number two in a decider.
Wright - who claimed his maiden TV title in Minehead 12 months ago - hit back from deficits of 3-1 and 6-4 to lead 7-6 and 9-8, but Rafferty took the final two legs to complete a remarkable win.
"I'm over the moon," said Rafferty. "The aim was to get five legs so it's a good feeling to beat someone who won it last year."
2014 UK Open champion Adrian Lewis exited on the opening night as he lost 10-5 to Dirk van Duijvenbode, who followed up his 6-4 second round win over 2017 semi-finalist Alan Norris by claiming another big-name victim.
Two-time winner Raymond van Barneveld survived six missed match darts from TV debutant Mike Norton before claiming a 6-5 second round win, only to then lose out 10-4 to Mervyn King in the last 64.
2012 champion Robert Thornton also went out with a 10-8 defeat to David Pallett, leaving 2008 and 2011 winner James Wade as the only former champion remaining in the field going into Saturday's fourth round after the left-hander's 10-6 win over Simon Stevenson.
World Champion Rob Cross, who was a Rileys Amateur Qualifier at the 2016 UK Open, had to fight from 2-0, 5-3, 6-4 and 7-5 down before battling past former World Youth Championship finalist Nathan Aspinall with a 10-8 win.
2010 UK Open finalist Gary Anderson produced a classy opening to his challenge by reeling off seven successive legs to break a three-all deadlock with Robert Rickwood, landing four ton-plus checkouts on his way to a 10-7 win.
2017 UK Open runner-up Gerwyn Price defeated James Wilson and Alex Roy - the ever-present who came through the Rileys Amateur Qualifiers - as he won through to the last 32.
Basingstoke-based delivery driver Paul Hogan was the best-performing Rileys Amateur Qualifier for a second successive year, as he defeated Darren Brown and Paul Nicholson to win through to the last 32.
The other three Rileys Amateur Qualifiers who won through to the third round, Harry Ward, David Airey and Darryl Pilgrim, all saw their runs in Minehead ended with losses to Chris Dobey, Jason Lowe and Steve West respectively.
Germany's Martin Schindler overcame a travel nightmare to compete in the tournament before booking his spot in the fourth round with a 10-7 win over Ryan Harrington.
Berlin's Schindler had two flights to the UK cancelled on Thursday before jetting into London Gatwick on Friday morning and getting a taxi to Minehead in time to compete.
Harrington - the son of former world number one Rod - had defeated Richie Burnett and Danny Noppert to reach the third round, but saw the young German take victory.
"It's the worst trouble I've had travelling and I was up at 4.30 in the morning to get here, but I'm glad I did," said Schindler. "I'm so happy to be here and I had nothing to lose. I'll sleep very well tonight."
Reigning World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney had seen Jelle Klaasen come from 7-4 down to lead 9-7 before the Dutchman's missed match darts allowed the world number five back in to snatch victory.
Premier League leader Michael Smith was a 10-5 winner against former World Championship finalist Kirk Shepherd, while Ian White claimed a 10-7 victory over Simon Whitlock.
Three-time World Champion John Part won three matches - and lost just four legs in the process - as defeats of John Morris, Paul Whitworth and David Evans put him into the last 32 in his best run in a TV event for over five years.
Australian duo Kyle Anderson and Corey Cadby overcame Vincent van der Voort and Michael Rasztovits respectively, while Belgium's Kim Huybrechts overcame German debutant Gabriel Clemens 10-8.
Dutch duo Jermaine Wattimena and Ron Meulenkamp overcame Steve Beaton and Dave Prins, while Polish debutant Krzysztof Ratajski won 10-7 against Darren Webster and Robert Owen was a 10-2 winner in the all-Welsh tie with World Championship semi-finalist Jamie Lewis.
Former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown overcame Joe Cullen 10-8, while Matthew Edgar overcame John Henderson 10-4 and Ricky Evans was a 10-6 winner over emerging youngster Luke Humphries.
Young left-hander Ryan Meikle knocked out world number seven Dave Chisnall 10-6, following up wins over Mickey Mansell and Mark Craddock with a memorable result to reach the fourth round.
Stephen Bunting overcame Justin Pipe 10-3, while Jonny Clayton - the runner-up in November's Players Championship Finals in Minehead - was a 10-6 winner over Michael Barnard.
Former UK Open finalists Terry Jenkins and Mark Walsh were first round victims, while 2013 runner-up Andy Hamilton lost out to Wattimena in round two alongside New Zealand's Cody Harris and Spanish duo Toni Alcinas and Jose Justicia.
In total, 11 of the 128 players withdrew from the tournament after being unable to travel to Minehead for the three-day, ITV4-televised event.