PBA Spare Shots: Even Fellow PBA Competitors Join “Norm Duke Fan Club”

by Bill Vint March 6, 2019 12:50

Norm Duke knows he has been a fan favorite for quite some time. The extended “Duuuuukkke…” chant whenever he’s introduced is a clue. But what the 54-year-old 40-time PBA Tour champion and hall of famer didn’t fully realize until the past couple of weeks is how much he’s idolized by the growing group of 20-something future stars who will soon steal the spotlight.

“The kids out here treat me unbelievably good, unbelievably!” Duke said after winning his 39th PBA Tour title in the Go Bowling! PBA Indianapolis Open, a week before he captured title no. 40 in last Sunday’s Go Bowling! PBA Jonesboro Open in Arkansas. “They make every day I spend on this tour so enjoyable. To get this title means maybe they can appreciate other things, like winning when you’re not bowling your best.”

First in line to proclaim his admiration for what Duke has contributed to the sport was Australia’s Jason Belmonte, who is widely considered the best bowler in the world, and who was Duke’s victim in the Indianapolis Open title match. After that match, Belmonte posted a comment on his Facebook page that in part said, “…you’re a treasure to the game and still my idol.”

A week later, after his win in Jonesboro, Belmonte proclaimed Duke the front-runner in the 2019 PBA Player of the Year race.

Duke, who had proclaimed earlier in the season that he fully intended to win another title despite his age and a seven-year dry spell since his last singles victory, also noted the new PBA Playoffs have provided him with a renewed drive to win, especially after sitting in 31st place – on the outside looking in – heading into the Indianapolis tournament.

“I know what it takes,” he said after his win in Indy not only moved him into the top 24 who will qualify for the PBA Playoffs, but all the way to seventh place in the points race. His win in Arkansas moved him into third place, comfortably (for now) within the top eight who will earn a first-round bye when the Playoffs begin.

“Everything I’ve done the last three months has been with the Playoffs in mind. It’s everyone’s goal,” Duke said. “Everyone wants to win that $100,000 (Playoffs first prize) and you can’t win it if you don’t get there.

“It’s a tall order, but to this point, everything I’ve done in my life has been a tall order,” the 5-foot-6 Duke said as a point of emphasis.

Duke also addressed the PBA’s dual, or mixed, pattern scoring environments he conquered in both of his Indianapolis and Jonesboro victories. It’s a challenging test of skill and patience the PBA has employed, applying dramatically different oiling patterns on the left and right lanes in both events.

“I think they’re a tremendous requirement to make you better than you thought you’d needed to be,” Duke said. “Every pattern changes. Every day they change. You have to be smart enough to deal with the patterns and physically strong enough to get all that extra equipment across the center, because you’re using different balls on each lane.

“It’s ridiculously hard, but for those of us who have been out here a long time, it’s an advantage if you’re prepared for it.”

To further endear himself to his adoring fans, Duke has created what may be a new tradition by handing his championship trophy to the fans to pass around, kind of like NHL players sharing the Stanley Cup with their fans. That might not be the end of it.

“The next time, I might just jump into the crowd myself,” Duke said with a laugh.

PBA WORLD SERIES OF BOWLING X BY THE NUMBERS

As an international field of 135 players representing 20 countries gets ready to compete in PBA World Series of Bowling X at Thunderbowl Lanes beginning Sunday in suburban Detroit, what has become the premier international showcase of professional bowling competition has produced its own impressive history and statistics over the last decade.

Here’s a look at some of the records WSOB competitors will try to improve upon in Allen Park:

4 – PBA Tour titles won by Jason Belmonte in WSOB competition.

8 – Number of perfect games Dom Barrett has bowled in WSOB history.

18 – Telecasts made by Jason Belmonte in nine WSOB events.

40 – Number of countries represented in WSOB history.

85 – Number of players who have made the TV finals in PBA WSOB history.

195 – Total number of perfect games bowled in WSOB history.

225.95 – EJ Tackett’s leading average for all WSOB events.

227.8Sean Rash’s leading PBA World Championship average.

239.88Jesper Svensson’s average in WSOB Chameleon Championship events, tops among all animal pattern events.

329 – Number of players who have cashed in the WSOB.

827 – Number of players who have bowled in at least one WSOB event.

73,432 – Total number of games bowled in PBA WSOB qualifying.

$317,995 – Jason Belmonte as all-time WSOB earnings leader.

$2,903,304 – Combined earnings of top 20 on WSOB all-time money list.

$6,630,750 – Total earnings paid out in PBA WSOB history.

15,187,562 – Total number of pins knocked down in WSOB history.

FLOBOWLING WILL PROVIDE 50 HOURS OF WSOB X COVERAGE

PBA’s live streaming partner, FloBowling, will provide approximately 50 hours of preliminary round coverage of WSOB X from Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich., beginning with PBA Cheetah Championship qualifying on Tuesday, March 12. For a schedule of FloBowling coverage click on https://www.flobowling.com/events/6264031-2019-pba-world-series-of-bowling-x/schedule.

In addition to its multi-lane coverage of WSOB qualifying and match play rounds, the live finals of each WSOB FS1 telecast will be available to FloBowling’s international subscribers as they air. For subscription and additional schedule information visit www.flobowling.com.

DUKE, TACKETT, SIMONSEN FORTIFY PBA PLAYOFFS POINTS POSITIONS

While Australia’s Jason Belmonte took a break from PBA Tour competition to spend time with his family before the start of the PBA World Series of Bowling X, EJ Tackett and Anthony Simonsen joined Norm Duke in fortifying their positions among the top eight players in the race to qualify for first-round byes in the inaugural PBA Playoffs.

Belmonte was solidly in the lead in PBA Playoffs points after his win in the PBA Tournament of Champions followed by back-to-back second-place finishes in the PBA Players Championship and Go Bowling! PBA Indianapolis Open with 18,550 points and Tackett retained second place on the basis of his third straight top five finish in Jonesboro with 13,890 points. Duke, with back-to-back titles in Indy and Jonesboro, advanced from 31st to third (13,565) while Simonsen (13,200) has advanced from 35th prior to the TOC to fourth, in great part thanks to his win in the PBA Players Championship.

Rounding out the top eight after Jonesboro are Sean Rash (12,640), Jakob Butturff (11,475), Marshall Kent (9,595) and Tom Daugherty (9,250). Heading into the WSOB X, Wes Malott (8,260) and Kyle Troup (8,150) sat in ninth and 10th places, respectively.

The race for the 24th-and-final berth in the PBA Playoffs currently involves Brad Miller and Nick Pate in a tie for 24th with Tom Smallwood and Stuart Williams right behind as the Tour heads toward the April 1 cutoff date.

Under the new PBA competition points structure in play this season, a win in a Tier 1 (major championship) event is worth 7,500 points, a Tier 2 (standard PBA Tour tournament) title is worth 5,000 points and a Tier 3 (limited entry and/or modified format tournament) title is worth 2,500 points. In the upcoming WSOB X, the Cheetah, Chameleon and Scorpion Championships will be Tier 3 events; the PBA World Championship will be the season’s third Tier 1 event.

Players finishing in the top 24 in points as of April 1 qualify for a berth in the Playoffs. Finishing in the top 40 is required for eligibility to enter the 2019 PBA League Draft. To follow the points competition as the season progresses, use this link: https://www.pba.com/SeasonStats/PointsList/132?list=1.

The PBA Playoffs begin on Monday, April 8, with live coverage of the opening Round of 24 matches on FS1 at 7 p.m. EDT from Bayside Bowl in Portland, Maine.

PBA REGIONAL UPDATE: BRIAN KRETZER WINS 12TH PBA50 REGIONAL TITLE IN CANTON

Brian Kretzer of Dayton, Ohio defeated Ryan Shafer of Horseheads, N.Y. by 48 pins to win the PBA50 Strike Zone Lanes Central Classic presented by Radical at Strike Zone Lanes in Canton, Ohio, Sunday.

Kretzer finished with an 8-4 match play record and a total of 4,991 pins for 20 games, including match play bonus pins. The title was Kretzer’s third of the year in the PBA Central Region and his 12th career PBA50 Regional title. He also earned $1,600.

Robby Porter of Rancho Cordova, Calif. defeated Michael Pixley of Modesto, Calif., 268-217, to win the PBA West Region’s Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort Championship at Gold Country Lanes in Sutter Creek, Calif., on Sunday.

This was Porter’s third PBA Regional title and earned him $2,000. Pixley earned $1,500 for second place.

In the semifinal round, Porter defeated Wayne Garber of Modesto, Calif., 258-206, and Pixley defeated Josh Blanchard of Mesa, Ariz., 279-228, to set up the championship match. Garber and Blanchard each earned $1,000 as semifinal round losers.

• PBA’s March 8-10 regional tournament schedule includes the PBA50 Fayetteville South Open at Lafayette Lanes in Fayetteville, N.C., and the PBA50 Showtime Lanes Midwest/Central Open presented by Radical in Virden, Ill.

• There are no tournaments on the March 15-17 calendar, but activity resumes over the March 22-24 weekend with the PBA50 Rossi Lanes East Open in Elmira, N.Y.; the Hubbard Central Open presented by Brunswick at Bell-Wick Bowl in Hubbard, Ohio; the PBA50 Allstate Monte Skeets Midwest/Central Open presented by Ebonite at Liberty Lanes in Carpentersville, Ill.; the PBA50 Ultra Star Multi-Tainment Center South Open at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in Cherokee, N.C., and the Caveman Bowl Northwest/West Open presented by DV8 in Grants Pass, Ore.

● For complete PBA Regional schedules, rules and entry information, visit pba.com, open the “schedules” tab and click on PBA Regional Tours to find the event(s) in your area…and remember, you can follow “live scoring” for all PBA Regional events on pba.com (easily accessible for Apple and Android device users using the PBA app).

QUICK NOTES:

If you’d like some insight into how PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark earned his position as the PBA’s visionary leader, listen to his 35-minute conversation with WTMJ Radio’s Mike Spaulding: http://www.wtmj.com/wtmj-conversations.

In a recent Facebook post, PBA Hall of Famer and 10-time titlist Steve Hoskins announced he's returning to pro competition to bowl the PBA50 Tour in 2019. Hoskins, who was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 2017, became eligible for PBA50 competition when he turned 50 in January.

Nationally-syndicated columnist Norman Chad, a noted bowling fan, also has become a dedicated Jason Belmonte fan. You can read his views on the Australian here: https://www.wvgazettemail.com/sports/columnists/norman_chad/norman-chad-belmonte-s-bowling-style-is-changing-the-game/article_d1871ce4-2fdb-580a-aedc-49fb0671f0ba.html.

There has been a change in the 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour competition points race among 2019 Bowl4life PBA Rookie Watch candidates. Thanks to a 16th-place finish in the PBA Jonesboro Open, Mike Coffey of Melbourne, Fla., has moved into third place among 2019 PBA rookies in terms of points while Wichita’s Patrick Hanrahan is now the points leader among rookies after his 18th-place finish in Jonesboro. Jake Rollins of Glen Rock, N.J., previously the rookie points leader, is now second. The 2019 PBA Rookie of the Year will receive a $2,500 bonus from Chuck Gardner’s Bowl4Life Foundation and the foundation will donate an additional $2,500 to a youth bowler scholarship in the ROY’s name.

This week’s unofficial FloBowling PBA Power Rankings top 10 following the PBA Jonesboro Open includes: 1, Norm Duke (13); 2, Jason Belmonte (1); 3, EJ Tackett (2); 4, Jakob Butturff (3); 5, Sean Rash (4); 5, Dom Barrett (4); 6, Tom Daugherty (10); 7, Marshall Kent (11); 8, Kris Prather (12); 9, Dom Barrett (5), and 10, Kyle Troup (8). Visit FloBowling.com for a complete list along with Flo’s rationale for its rankings.

USBC and BPAA have awarded the 2020 U.S. Open to Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln, Neb. The tournament, a major championship on the PBA Tour schedule, will begin on Feb. 16 and will become part of the PBA’s live FOX schedule.

In the “He’s Old, But Not That Old Department”…Sunday’s Go Bowling! PBA Jonesboro Open release mistakenly noted that winner Norm Duke had been bowling on Tour for 25 years by the year Anthony Simonsen was born. The correct gap was 15 years. But it also can be noted that Duke won PBA Player of the Year honors for the first time in 1994, three years before Simonsen was born in 1997.

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