PHIL TAYLOR won an all-Stoke first round clash with Andy Pearce as he began the UK Masters with a 6-1 victory on Friday night, as big guns Raymond van Barneveld, Simon Whitlock, Andy Hamilton & Robert Thornton made strong starts to the European Tour event at the Butlins Minehead Resort.
Taylor bounced back from Thursday's McCoy's Premier League Darts defeat to Gary Anderson in Nottingham with a strong performance 24 hours later in Somerset, extending his winning run on the Minehead stage to six games after he won last year's Cash Converters Players Championship Finals at the venue.
The World Champion hit finishes of 134 and 118 in taking a 3-0 lead, and after Pearce took the fourth leg to get off the mark, Taylor stamped his authority with a ten-dart finish before going on to complete victory.
World number two Adrian Lewis joined Taylor in the last 32, but had to work harder for his victory over Dave Honey, who led 5-4 before the double World Champion took the game's final two legs to edge through.
Reigning UK Open champion Robert Thornton was the day's most impressive performer, averaging 106 in a 6-0 whitewash of fellow Scot John Henderson, and Andy Hamilton was similarly ruthless as he swept past Northern Ireland's Daryl Gurney.
Premier League leader Raymond van Barneveld dropped only one leg in an impressive opener against Germany's Tomas Seyler, while James Wade avoided a scare before seeing off Adam Hunt 6-4, with the young prospect missing one dart to take the lead when tied at four-all.
Simon Whitlock held off a fightback from Finland's Jarkko Komula before taking a 6-3 win from their clash, with the Australian hitting seven perfect darts in one leg during the game but missing out on a nine-darter.
Welshman Mark Webster had earlier gone even closer to achieving a perfect leg, missing double 12 for a nine-darter in his win over Simon Craven, although he also took out a 170 finish in a 6-2 triumph.
Wes Newton took out a ten-dart leg during his 6-4 win over Ross Smith, while Gary Anderson was a 6-1 winner against Ian Moss after Michael van Gerwen had been pushed all the way to a deciding leg by fellow Dutchman Jelle Klaasen in a high-quality game which saw both players average over 100.
Kevin Painter (pictured) was another 6-5 winner in the first round of the £100,000 event, punishing Steve West for missing five match darts by taking out a sensational 140 checkout in the deciding leg of their contest.
Mervyn King and Dave Chisnall also progressed in a deciding leg, against Michael Smith and Darren Webster respectively, while Terry Jenkins brushed aside Kevin McDine 6-1.
There were a number of upsets, though, as seeded players exited the tournament in round one, with world number nine Justin Pipe the biggest casualty as he went down 6-2 to Germany's Bernd Roith.
Shropshire youngster David Pallett averaged 100 in an impressive win over Paul Nicholson, Tony West defeated Vincent van der Voort 6-2, former World Youth Champion Arron Monk saw off Ian White 6-4 and current World Youth Champion James Hubbard lost out 6-2 to Nigel Heydon.
Austria's Mensur Suljovic sealed a 6-3 win over Colin Osborne with a 170 checkout, and Stuart Kellett whitewashed Peter Wright, while Canada's John Part was a 6-4 winner against Kim Huybrechts - who had been the runner-up to Taylor in his previous visit to Minehead last November.
Welshman Richie Burnett whitewashed Michael Rasztovits, Brendan Dolan saw off youngster Reece Robinson 6-1 and Jamie Caven defeated Derby rival Jim Walker 6-5 to earn himself a second round clash with Taylor.
Wayne Jones hit a 160 finish during his 6-3 win over Germany's Jyhan Artut, Mark Walsh sealed a 6-2 win over Paul Rowley with a 124 finish on the bullseye and Colin Lloyd overcame Brian Woods 6-3.
Belgium's Kurt Van De Rijck defied a ten-darter from Steve Beaton to take a 6-4 win from their clash, while Ronnie Baxter defeated Alan Tabern 6-4 and Andy Smith was a 6-1 winner against Ireland's Keith Rooney.
Play continues on Saturday, with the second round split across two sessions on the main stage in the Skyline Pavilion at the Butlins Minehead Resort.
The destiny of the £20,000 title will then be decided on Sunday, with the third round, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final all being held.
Friday March 8
Vincent van der Voort 2-6 Tony West
Paul Nicholson 3-6 David Pallett
Kim Huybrechts 4-6 John Part
Peter Wright 0-6 Stuart Kellett
Justin Pipe 2-6 Bernd Roith
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Darren Webster
Terry Jenkins 6-1 Kevin McDine
Ian White 4-6 Arron Monk
Mervyn King 6-5 Michael Smith
Kevin Painter 6-5 Steve West
Brendan Dolan 6-1 Reece Robinson
James Hubbard 3-6 Nigel Heydon
Mark Webster 6-2 Simon Craven
Jamie Caven 6-5 Jim Walker
Richie Burnett 6-0 Michael Rasztovits
Colin Osborne 3-6 Mensur Suljovic
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Jelle Klaasen
Gary Anderson 6-1 Ian Moss
Robert Thornton 6-0 John Henderson
Wes Newton 6-4 Ross Smith
Simon Whitlock 6-3 Jarkko Komula
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Dave Honey
Raymond van Barneveld 6-1 Tomas Seyler
Phil Taylor 6-1 Andy Pearce
Andy Hamilton 6-0 Daryl Gurney
James Wade 6-4 Adam Hunt
Ronnie Baxter 6-4 Alan Tabern
Wayne Jones 6-3 Jyhan Artut
Colin Lloyd 6-3 Brian Woods
Mark Walsh 6-2 Paul Rowley
Andy Smith 6-1 Keith Rooney
Steve Beaton 4-6 Kurt Van De Rijck
Saturday March 9 Second Round
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)
Terry Jenkins v Richie Burnett
Bernd Roith v Mensur Suljovic
Arron Monk v Mark Walsh
Colin Lloyd v Stuart Kellett
Ronnie Baxter v Andy Smith
Michael van Gerwen v Kurt Van De Rijck
Robert Thornton v Tony West
Dave Chisnall v Nigel Heydon
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Wes Newton v Mark Webster
Andy Hamilton v Brendan Dolan
John Part v Gary Anderson
James Wade v Mervyn King
Phil Taylor v Jamie Caven
Raymond van Barneveld v Kevin Painter
Adrian Lewis v David Pallett
Simon Whitlock v Wayne Jones