Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld kicked off their Blue Square UK Open challenges with impressive victories in Bolton tonight.
Taylor produced a 104 average in his 9-3 win over John Ferrell but admitted he was distracted by a night of upsets on the other seven stages at the Reebok Stadium.
While title-holder van Barneveld was a 9-0 victor against Tony Ayres, two-time world champ Dennis Priestley, 2004 UK Open winner Roland Scholten and former world number one Colin Lloyd crashed out.
“It was a good start for me, but I’ll get better as the tournament progresses,” said Taylor.
“I was looking round at what was happening in the other games, so I have to concentrate more.”
Van Barneveld looked back to his best and said: “I played well, and my doubles were brilliant. I love this tournament – but I’m still only in the last 32.”
His fellow Dutchman Vincent van der Voort took eight successive legs in coming from 4-1 down to knock out Lloyd – while Stoke qualifier Nigel Birch beat Priestley 9-8.
Wayne Mardle paid for missing match darts in two legs as Adrian Lewis came from 8-7 down to win a thrilling contest in a deciding leg, with the Stoke youngster hitting eight 180s in edging out the fans’ favourite.