SWEET 16 FOR TAYLOR IN BETVICTOR WORLD MATCHPLAY
PHIL TAYLOR emotionally bowed out at the BetVictor World Matchplay by claiming an incredible 16th Winter Gardens triumph with an 18-8 defeat of Peter Wright in Sunday's final in Blackpool.
The 56-year-old Stoke great has dominated the history of the World Matchplay, and said his farewell to the tournament ahead of his impending retirement in style with a brilliant display to claim the £115,000 title.
Having knocked out reigning champion Michael van Gerwen and former World Champions Raymond van Barneveld and Adrian Lewis in reaching to the final, Taylor found another huge performance to reclaim the prestigious trophy.
Taylor, who averaged 104.24 in the final, said: "It's fantastic - this has capped everything off for me. It couldn't have come at a better time and it's a bonus for me.
"It's lovely, it really is and I've loved every minute of it. To win a major at my age is fantastic, and I've had a tough week when you look at the draw.
"I'll miss this place tremendously - I've loved it here since the first time I walked through the door. It's great to win again and it will go down in history, and I'm delighted for everyone who's supported me."
Wright was bidding to add his second career TV title to add to March's UK Open victory, but the number three seed was unable to match his rival's superior finishing on the night.
Taylor secured an immediate break of throw in the opening leg on double eight and moved two legs up before Wright took out 101 to get off the mark.
The 15-time champion won two of the next three legs to move 4-2 up before Wright finished 100 with two double tops to respond - only to see Taylor take out 72, a brace of 81 finishes, both for 12-darters, and 82 on the bull to lead 8-3.
Wright responded superbly with a barrage of big scores to win the next three legs in 12, 14 and 11 darts to pull back to 8-6 - but Taylor fired in two maximums in an 11-darter of his own to take leg 15.
Taylor also won the next three legs to move 12-6 up before a 13-darter from Wright saw him hit back briefly, with two further 14-darters moving the 56-year-old four legs away from the title.
After hitting a 13-dart finish, Taylor capitalised on five missed doubles from Wright on double ten to lead 16-7 and hit the same bed to move to the brink of victory.
Wright took out 95 to keep his hopes alive, but Taylor hit his seventh 180 to pull clear in the next leg before fittingly hitting double 16 to seal his 16th title.
"During the final I was watching every bit of Peter's body language and he showed every sign of being a little bit tired," Taylor added. "I wanted to keep putting him under pressure.
"I was miles in front at one time and he came back, but I was playing ok and I kept him under pressure."
After being left in tears following the final, Wright said: "Phil is still the best in the world and he's showed that this week.
"I've watched Phil demolish other players in finals and I was on the other end of that big stick that he normally bashes everyone with - but it was a privilege in his last game here.
"I learned a lesson today and I'm grateful to be in the final. A couple of years ago I watched Michael getting beaten by Phil in the final and he was in tears, and that's how much it meant to him.
"It's exactly the same for me and I'll go back to the practice board, become better and I'll come back stronger. I'm still learning and it was great to learn off the master there in the final."
Following his World Matchplay triumph, Taylor has been cut from 20/1 to 10/1 to win a 17th World Championship title on his final appearance in that event over the festive period.
Phil Taylor Interview
Peter Wright Interview
BetVictor World Matchplay
Sunday July 30
Phil Taylor 18-8 Peter Wright
Best of 35 legs
Phil Taylor's Final Walk-On
Phil Taylor & Peter Wright
Phil Taylor Claims Victory
Phil Taylor & Peter Wright
Phil Taylor Celebrates His Win
Phil Taylor Leaves The Winter Gardens Stage For The Final Time
1-0 - Taylor misses the bull for a 161 finish but cleans up double eight for an immediate break.
2-0 - Both players miss doubles in two visits before Taylor returns on double ten to move two legs up.
2-1 - Wright finishes 101 on double 16 to hit back.
3-1 - Both players open with 180s before Taylor regains his two-leg lead on double eight.
3-2 - Tops sees Wright claim his second leg.
4-2 - Wright applies the pressure with a 180, but Taylor hits double ten to keep the advantage.
4-3 - Wright takes out 100 with two double tops.
5-3 - Taylor finishes 72 on double 16 to hold throw once more.
6-3 - Wright fires in a third 180, but Taylor takes out 81 on the bull for a second break with a 12-dart finish.
7-3 - Taylor extends his advantage to four legs with another 81 finish, this time landing tops for a 12-darter.
8-3 - Wright misses five darts at double 12 and six, and Taylor follows another 180 by breaking throw again with an 82 finish on the bull.
8-4 - Wright opens with two 180s, and though he is unable to complete a nine-darter he pins double 16 to win the leg in 12 darts for his first break.
8-5 - Wright scores 174, 140 and 171 to leave 16, while Taylor opens with 140 and 180 - but the 15-time champion misses double 13 to break throw to punish further misses from the Scot, who posts double one to continue his revival.
8-6 - Wright fires in another 180 and lands double 16 for an 11-darter to pull back to just two legs behind with another break of throw.
9-6 - Taylor lands two 180s in an 11-darter to halt Wright's charge.
10-6 - A 14-darter from Taylor moves him clear of Wright once more.
11-6 - Wright misses double six for a 126 finish, and Taylor capitalises on double 16.
12-6 - Taylor claims his fourth successive leg, landing a 177 in a 12-darter.
12-7 - Wright hits double ten to respond with a 13-darter.
13-7 - Taylor lands his sixth 180 before tops for a 14-darter regains his six-leg cushion.
14-7 - Taylor breaks throw once more, finishing 62 on double 16 for another 14-darter.
15-7 - A 13-darter moves Taylor three legs away from the title.
16-7 - Five missed doubles from Wright allow Taylor in on double ten.
17-7 - Wright posts a 180, but double ten moves Taylor to the brink of victory.
17-8 - Wright takes out 95 on double five to keep his hopes alive.
18-8 - Taylor hits his seventh 180 and lands double 16 to seal his 16th World Matchplay win.