UK Open darts: Bounty Hunter Kevin Dowling faces Phil Taylor
Kevin 'Bounty Hunter' Dowling is looking to claim the ultimate darting bounty by taking out Phil Taylor in the UK Open.
Last Updated: 06/06/13 10:21pm
World champion Taylor will enter 'The FA Cup of Darts' in the second round for the first time after finishing 44th in the qualifying stages for this year's four-day event at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton.
Taylor will take on world number 89 Dowling in Bolton on Thursday night in their best-of-nine leg clash, and needs to take victory to join the likes of Michael van Gerwen and reigning champion Robert Thornton in the third round draw.
However Dowling, a design engineer from Coventry who is nicknamed 'The Bounty Hunter' due to his love of western movies, is preparing himself for the biggest game of his career.
"This is the ultimate bounty!" said Dowling. "It's the sort of chance that any player would love and thousands of darts players from across the world would love to be in my shoes.
"You can't get much bigger than playing Phil Taylor, and he's still the man to beat as far as I'm concerned, so it would be very nice to win on Thursday night.
"I've only played him once, in the US Open in Connecticut about six years ago. I won the first leg and had a chance to win the first set but missed my doubles, and that was it.
Dowling has played in seven previous UK Opens, but admits that being on the main stage of eight boards which will be playing simultaneously will be a great experience.
"I've only played on the main stage in Bolton once before, against John Part in 2007 over the best of 15 legs," he said. "It's good having that experience there but I was a bit slow out of the blocks and it took me probably three legs to get used to the lighting on stage."
Two-time UK Open champion James Wade is also in action on the opening night, as he faces Robbie Green in the preliminary round - and the world number four will need to win three matches just to reach Friday's third round.
2004 champion Roland Scholten plays Conan Whitehead, one of the 32 Speedy Amateur Qualifiers, in the first round of the event, world number ten Justin Pipe comes in at the same stage against Welshman Gareth Pass and Stephen Bunting, the current World Masters champion who is another of the amateur qualifiers, plays Vernon Sheppard in the preliminary round.
The top 32 professionals - who competed in eight UK Open Qualifiers - will come in at the third round stage on Friday night alongside the 32 second round winners.
Michael van Gerwen, who won five Qualifiers, heads the top 32 alongside reigning UK Open champion Robert Thornton, Australian star Simon Whitlock and Belgium's Kim Huybrechts.