Phil Taylor made history when he hit a stunning nine-dart finish at the 2002 World Matchplay in Blackpool.
While it wasn’t the first perfect leg to be televised, it was the first to be broadcast live, with a previous nine-darter being screened after the event. Chris Mason was on the receiving end in the quarter-finals as Taylor nailed treble 20, treble 19 and double 12 with his final three darts to bring the house down at the Winter Gardens.
It was such a stunning moment in sporting, let alone darting history, that The Power received a £100,000 bonus. Such a pay-out would be financially unthinkable nowadays, with nine-darters a much more regular occurrence. Gerwyn Price hit two in one night in the Premier League earlier this year.
Barry Hearn had recently taken over as PDC chairman when Taylor made history that day in Blackpool. As he reflected on his impact on the sport over the last 20 years, he told the Gary Newbon Sports Show with Jewson: “It’s made up of ordinary people with extraordinary ability earning money they could only ever dream of. It’s not Premier League football, because that’s a world apart from anything else.
“They’re [the players] are all characters and that's one thing we’re short of in sport. These darts players are good, but they’re also funny, they’re prepared to get involved and they realise their life has changed. A guy who was perhaps earning 20-25 grand a year is now earning 250 grand a year. The top darts players are earning a couple of million a year.
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“And the standard has gone through the roof. When Phil Taylor made his first nine-dart finish, we paid him a £100,000 bonus. This year we will have at least 100 nine-darters on the circuit. It’s just an amazing thing.”
He added: “And these players are such fun. The world is such a serious place, such a sad place, it’s just nice to have a night out, no pressure and watch great sport in a party atmosphere. It ticks a lot of boxes.”
Taylor went on to win the World Matchplay in 2002, one of his incredible 16 triumphs at the tournament.
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