Submitted by Phil MacHarg
A month shy of his 55th birthday, PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke of Clermont defeated top qualifier Jason Belmonte of Australia, 237-219, to win his 39th PBA Tour title in the Go Bowling! PBA Indianapolis Open at Woodland Bowl.
Duke, who is third on the all-time PBA Tour titles list behind Walter Ray Williams Jr.’s 47 and Earl Anthony’s 43, never trailed after starting the title match with three strikes and then converting the 4-9 split. Belmonte, who entered the finals as the top qualifier for a record-tying third consecutive tournament, kept the match close throughout, but when the Australian two-handed player left the 3-10 split on his first shot of the 10th frame, all Duke needed to clinch was seven pins in his 10th frame.
Duke immediately turned to Belmonte, who led the stepladder qualifiers by nearly 400 pins, and said, “We’ve been watching you dominate us, and we know it hurts to lose. We’ve all been through it enough, but I’ll never forget this as long as I live.”
Duke, who hadn’t won a singles title since the 2012 PBA Dick Weber Playoffs – also at Woodland Bowl – said he knew he’d win again. His doubles win with Malott in 2015 also was at Woodland, where he now has had more success than any other PBA player.
”I was in control,” Duke said. “I’ve been there before. I knew what to do. It was hard, but the shot was there and the stepladder format gives you a chance to win, so I’m grateful for that chance.
“I always believed I’d win again,” he said. “The first game I ever bowled on television was against Earl Anthony, and I won. In my mind, Jason’s the best ever, in spades. I feel for him, because I’ve been there, but for me, I get to say I bowled Earl, and Walter, and Pete, and I beat ‘em all.”
Belmonte said, “Today I watched my idol (Duke) bowl the most impressive game against me. I tried my best to keep up, but a few stubborn corner pins…ended my chances. Norm’s a treasure.”
Duke earned his trip to the title match with a 214-195 victory over his two-time Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship partner, Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, when Malott left a solid 10 pin on his first shot in the 10th frame. Duke’s early turkey gave his an 18-pin lead in the fourth frame, but Malott then doubled and chipped away as Duke failed to carry key pocket hits. When Duke left a 10 pin on his last shot in the 10th frame, Malott had a chance to strike out to win by a pin, but failed to carry his first attempt in the 10th.
In the first match, after leaving a 2-8-10 split and failing to convert in the opening frame, Malott reeled off a string of seven strikes and cruised past Rhino Page of Orlando, Fla., 242-192. Malott then rallied to eliminate Tom Daugherty of Riverview, Fla., 174-170, by throwing four strikes in a row to end a match that saw Daugherty leave three splits and Malott four. The difference was Malott’s conversion of the 3-4-6-7-10 split in his sixth frame.
All rounds of the Indianapolis Open, a Tier 2 event in the 2019 PBA Playoffs points competition, were contested on a mixed lane conditioning environment where the 45-foot Dick Weber 45 oiling pattern was applied to the left lane and the Mike Aulby 38 pattern was applied to the right lane.
The Go Bowling! PBA Tour’s next event will be the PBA Jonesboro Open, a PBA Tier 3 points event, at Hijinx Family Entertainment Center in Jonesboro, Ark. Andrew Anderson of Holly, Mich., won the 2018 Jonesboro Open on his way to being selected Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year. Qualifying begins Wednesday with half of the field bowling its first seven-game round at 11 a.m. and the other half of the field bowling at 6 p.m. EST.
FloBowling will live-stream all qualifying and match play rounds Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (visit FloBowling.com for subscription information). For results as they happen, visit Live Scoring on PBA.com. For a roster of competitors, visit: https://www.pba.com/Rosters/Details/2764.
GO BOWLING! PBA INDIANAPOLIS OPEN
Woodland Bowl, Indianapolis, Sunday
1, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., $30,000.
2, Jason Belmonte, Australia, $15,000.
3, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, $10,000.
4, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., $8,000.
5, Rhino Page, Orlando, $7,000.
Match One: Malott def. Page, 242-192.
Match Two: Malott def. Daugherty, 174-170.
Semifinal: Duke def. Malott, 214-195.
Championship: Duke def. Belmonte, 237-219.