'Great draw' for Masters
Eighth-seeded World Cup representative Paul Nicholson is looking forward to taking on experienced Invercargill player Warren Parry in the opening round of the Sydney Darts Masters tonight.
"It's a great draw and I'm really looking forward to playing Warren," Nicholson said.
"I've known Warren for a long time and we've had many great matches before, and it will be fantastic to take him on in such a high-profile event.
"There's a nice mix of Aussies and Kiwis in there now and it's a great Oceanic event. We can't wait to get started because everyone's looking forward to getting their teeth into this event."
World No 2 Michael van Gerwen, the reigning Premier League Darts and World Grand Prix champion, has drawn Gordon Mathers, a 31-year-old from Brisbane who finished second to Anderson in the DPA standings this year and is joined in the Luna Park event by younger brother Jamie.
"Sydney is a great place and I'm really looking forward to playing in this tournament," van Gerwen, who won the previous World Series of Darts event in Dubai in May, said.
"I won the World Series event in Dubai and I'll be trying to win this one as well. I've not played many of these qualifiers before but I'm just seeing Gordon as my opponent.
"It's a short format in the first round, so you need prepare yourself well and make sure you don't make any mistakes."
Phil Taylor will take on top Australian Kyle Anderson.
World Champion Taylor, the sport's greatest ever player, will begin his challenge in the sold-out three-day event.
Anderson, a 25-year-old based in Mount Morgan, near Rockhampton, competed in last year's World Championship in London and has dominated the DPA's Australian Grand Prix circuit this year, finishing as a runaway winner of the Order of Merit with seven event victories.
He admits that it will be a dream taking on Taylor at Luna Park tonight - but is determined to make an impact on stage in the first round.
"To play Phil is a dream come true," Anderson said.
"He's the best player ever to play the game, the Roger Federer of darts, and everyone wants to be Phil and to beat Phil. I had a gut feeling that I'd draw Phil but you can't take Phil lightly. Hopefully I can get a couple of legs won early and ride the momentum all the way home. That might sound cocky but you've got to be confident against Phil or he'll take you down.
Taylor comes into the Sydney Darts Masters on the back of last month's imperious triumph in the World Matchplay.
"Although I've never played Kyle before I know he's had a great year on the Australian circuit and he's the top player over here, so I won't be taking him lightly. Some of the qualifiers will probably get a bit nervous in front of the TV cameras but you'll have some who excel and perform well. If one of these young players, like Kyle Anderson, come through and do well in the Sydney Darts Masters then it will be a big boost - but I'll be doing everything in my power to take the title."
Leading Australian Simon Whitlock, the world number four, will play Jamie Mathers, who was the tournament's final qualifier on Wednesday afternoon when he won a Play-Off against Dave Muller after the pair reached the DPA Oceanic Masters semi-finals.
"I've been playing darts for 20-odd years but this is one of the most exciting weeks of my career," Whitlock said.
"Darts is getting more and more popular all the time in Australia through the TV coverage that they are getting of our events in Europe, and it's been great to see how much interest there's been since we've arrived. The event sold out in a few weeks and it's a big step forward for the sport over here. Australians love sport anyway but they'll have never experienced anything like this.''
Whitlock hopes to make the most of his home advantage.
"I'm so proud to be a part of it and to have the crowd behind me this week will be great. I think that will give me a little bit extra in my game and hopefully I can do the business because it would be fantastic to win this title."
European Champion Adrian Lewis, the world number three, has drawn qualifier Monty Tuhua - a butcher from Auckland - while Raymond van Barneveld plays Geelong-based DPA number three Clinton Bridge.
Wes Newton plays David Platt, who emigrated to Australia from England and won through the DPA Qualifiers on Tuesday.
Andy Hamilton, June's UK Open finalist, will face the challenge of Beau Anderson, the older brother of Kyle who also won through the knockout qualifiers held in Warilla on Sunday and also claimed glory in Wednesday's prestigious Oceanic Masters event, defeating Bridge 6-4 in the final.
Worldwide coverage will be televised through Sky New Zealand, Fox Asia, OSN across the Middle East, on the Eurosport Network in the UK, Ireland, across mainland Europe and in Scandinavia, and online through www.LIVEPDC.TV.
Sydney Darts Masters is live on Sky Sport 4 from 10pm.
First Round Draw & Tournament Bracket
Phil Taylor (1, England) v Kyle Anderson (Australia)
Paul Nicholson (8, Australia) v Warren Parry (New Zealand)
Simon Whitlock (4, Australia) v Jamie Mathers (Australia)
Andy Hamilton (5, England) v Beau Anderson (Australia)
Michael van Gerwen (2, Netherlands) v Gordon Mathers (Australia)
Raymond van Barneveld (7, Netherlands) v Clinton Bridge (Australia)
Adrian Lewis (3, England) v Monty Tuhua (New Zealand)
Wes Newton (6, England) v David Platt (Australia)
The Southland Times