Phil Taylor made a winning start in his quest for a 16th World Championship at Alexandra Palace - however, he was far from convincing.

The defending champion was too good for American Gary Mawson, who had earlier seen off Juanito Gionson of the Philippines 4-1.

'The Power' dropped just one leg in winning the first set and Mawson was made to regret missing three shots at a double in the second leg of the second set - and that signalled a notable drop in quality.

Taylor edged the second set 3-2 and won the third by the same margin, nailing double top to wrap up the success.

However, the 50-year-old from Stoke was clearly out of form, averaging just 88.49% and hitting just 26% of his doubles.

He admitted afterwards: ‘I think both of us were off. No idea why, I don't know if it was too late at night...

‘My daughter has given birth to a premature baby this week - he came out into a normal ward yesterday and is in an incubator. I've had a few late nights this week - but nothing we can't handle.’

He continued on Sky Sports: ‘It's been a funny night with Gary playing a qualifier earlier. It's just
one of those things - but I don't do averages like that normally.

‘Manchester United are top of the league but don't always win convincingly. I won't dwell on it, it's gone and I'll concentrate on the next round now.’

Elsewhere, Paul Nicholson made a bright start to his campaign as he flushed out debutant Steve Farmer in straight sets.

Nicholson, the shock winner of this year's Player's Championship, in which he beat Taylor at the semi-final stage, is seeded 16th for this tournament.

The Newcastle-born 31-year-old beat Farmer 3-0 (3-0, 3-1, 3-2), dominating early on before standing up to his opponent when he raised his performance in the third set.

Shropshire player Farmer had a 161 checkout to take the third set to a deciding leg, but Nicholson responded by checking out with 140 to book his place in the last 32.

Former BDO world champion Steve Beaton made a surprising first-round exit, crashing 3-2 at the hands of world number 90 Mark Hylton.

Former airline cabin manager Hylton, making his PDC World Championship debut, led 1-0 and 2-1 but on each occasion Beaton forced himself back to level terms.

Hylton looked as though he might buckle in the final set, before Beaton's standards slipped enough to allow the player who only joined the PDC tour this year in to pinch the glory.

Welshman Mark Webster, a semi-finalist on his debut at the Alexandra Palace last season and a former BDO world champion, joined the ranks of the first-day winners by trouncing Essex veteran Steve Maish 3-0.