November 15, 2006 19:00
Despite a slow start by his standards, 23-time Denny’s PBA Tour titlist Norm Duke wants to make it perfectly clear he’s not going away.
Duke fired a 247 in his final game Thursday night to finish the Round of 64 as the overall leader with a 3,383 14-game pinfall to earn the top seed for match play in the Lake County Indiana Classic at Stardust Bowl I.
The 42-year-old led the 2005-06 PBA World Point Rankings and made a Tour-high seven championship round appearances last season while capturing his 23rd career title. He had to withdraw from last week’s Etonic Championship with a neck injury, however, and is 33rd in the 2006-07 PBA World Point Rankings.
“I have a little motivation this week because my year so far has been sub-standard. It’s only a month into the season, but it’s not my best,” said Duke (Clermont, Fla.). “If you’re going to come out and play against the best in the world, you want to be included in the top and my play the first month is definitely a source of motivation. I will certainly improve on my first month’s play.”
Duke will face No. 32 Michael Fagan (Greenlawn, N.Y.), who defeated Mike Edwards (Tulsa, Okla.) in a one-game roll-off, 201-179, after the two tied for 32nd with 3,096.
Mika Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.), who fired two 300 games in the first seven-game block, finished second with 3,381 and will face No. 31 Steve Jaros (Yorkville, Ill.).
Defending champion Pete Weber (St. Ann, Mo.), who is also looking to win back-to-back titles for the first time since 1991 after winning last week’s Etonic Championship, finished fourth with 3,327. He will face No. 29 Jeff Lizzi (Sandusky, Ohio), who fired a 278 his final game to jump into the top 32.
Lizzi is one of four bowlers who qualified through Wednesday’s Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round to make match play, joining Dino Castillo (Carrollton, Texas) who finished sixth, Troy Wollenbecker (Toledo, Ohio), who finished seventh and Steve Rogers (Bourbonnais, Ill.), who finished 22nd.
Match play gets underway Friday morning at 9 a.m. EST with the Round of 32, followed by the Rounds of 16 and 8 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.
The final four will advance to Sunday’s live ESPN televised finals at 1 p.m. EST at Stardust Bowl I. The winner will take home $25,000 and an exemption for the 2007-08 Denny’s PBA Tour season.
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