For the 3rd tournament in a row and 4 out of the last 5, Dynasty Athlete Representation has 2 bowlers in the ESPN TV finals.
After a disappointing finish in the recent Professional Bowlers Association H&R Block Tournament of Champions, where he was trying for his fourth consecutive “major” title, Norm Duke regained his focus to take top qualifier honors for Sunday’s ESPN-televised stepladder finals of the Denny’s Dick Weber Open at Fountain Bowl.
Duke of Clermont, Fla., a 31-time PBA Tour titlist who was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame Jan. 24 in Las Vegas, posted a 17-7 overall match play record and was 7-1 after Friday’s final match play round. His 9,371 39-game pinfall total put him 52 pins ahead of fellow Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., who qualified second for the TV finals.
“What else can I say but to stay ahead of Pete Weber in a tournament named after Dick Weber is unbelievable,” Duke said. “All I heard was footsteps. It’s going to be a tough one Sunday.”
Weber, who is tied for third on the all-time PBA Tour title list with Mark Roth with 34 wins, makes his first television appearance of the 2008-09 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour season and will be looking for his first win.
“To win this tournament would be like winning a major-it would obviously mean a lot,” Weber said. “But I have to say I’ve had good luck winning tournaments named after professional bowlers. I won one named after Parker Bohn III, Johnny Petraglia and I think there might have been a Don Carter somewhere in there.”
Qualifying in the third spot was four-time Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour titlist Ryan Shafer of Horseheads, N.Y., followed by the reigning PBA Bowler of the Year and 10-time Tour winner Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas in fourth. Both will be looking for their first win of the season.
In a battle that went down to the final frame of the position round match, Michael Fagan of Patchogue, N.Y., defeated Tony Reyes of San Bruno, Calif., 224-216 to earn the fifth and final stepladder spot. Fagan will be looking to win his second career Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour title.
The tournament featured the “traditional” qualifying and match play format used in PBA’s early years and included three rounds of qualifying after which the top 24 advanced to 24 games of round robin match play to determine the five players for the stepladder finals.
Sunday’s finals will get underway at 1 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m. Pacific). The winner earns $35,000 plus a one-year exemption on the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour.