By Alex Moss
20 DECEMBER 2016 • 11:40PM
Raymond van Barneveld and Simon Whitlock cruised through the first round of the William Hill World Darts Championship with straight sets victories tonight.
Five-time world champion fired in checkouts of 120 and 156 while dropping just two legs in a 3-0 win against Robbie Green, who was making his debut at the Alexandra Palace.
The Dutchman, seeded 12th for this year’s tournament, knocked out world number one Michael van Gerwen on his way to reaching the semi-finals last year, and began his latest bid for a sixth world title with a classy display.
“It was tougher than it looked,” van Barneveld said. “The first set was the key.
“It was important but it’s still not easy because I know what Robbie can do.
“To play on this stage is the best thing we darts players do and I love it and will try to make it continue.”
Whitlock, a former runner-up in both the PDC and BDO World Championships, thrashed German qualifier Dragutin Horvat 3-0 to get past the first round at Alexandra Palace for the first time in three years.
The Wizard, who had been knocked out at the first hurdle by Darren Webster and Ricky Evans in his last two World Championship campaigns, never looked in trouble against Horvat, losing just one leg on his way to a straight sets win.
The Australian finished the match in style with checkouts of 170 and 158 in successive legs to set up a rematch with Webster in the second round.
“I’ve got revenge on my mind but I’ll enjoy this win first,” Whitlock said.
“I’m really happy. I love a 170 as everyone knows. I’ve been playing really well again recently and it feels like it’s coming good for me at the right time.
“I played well but I know I can play better and I will have to against Darren and if I go even further in the tournament.”
Northern Ireland’s Brendan Dolan also booked his place in the second round after beating former BDO world champion Christian Kist 3-1 earlier this evening.
The 2011 World Grand Prix finalist took the last two sets with the loss of just one leg, posting a 95.12 average to advance through the first round for the fourth time in five years.
“I was happy with that – especially my finishing,” Dolan said.
“I’ve struggled for 18 months but my form is coming back. I’ve got more determination, confidence and drive than ever before and I’m so pleased to get through.
“I’ve never really had a good run here but on that World Championship stage, anything is possible.”
2017 William Hill World Darts Championship
Schedule of Play
Preliminary Round and First Round
Tuesday December 20 (7pm)
Boris Koltsov 1-2 Dragutin Horvat (P)
Brendan Dolan (23) 3-1 Christian Kist
Raymond van Barneveld (12) 3-0 Robbie Green
Simon Whitlock (17) 3-0 Dragutin Horvat