November 16, 2006 19:00
Two words can describe Norm Duke’s performance heading into the finals of the Lake County Indiana Classic at Stardust Bowl I: On fire.
After leading Thursday’s Round of 64 with a 14-game pinfall of 3,383, Duke (Clermont, Fla.) put on a show in Friday’s best-of-seven match play rounds, sweeping No. 32 Michael Fagan (Greenlawn, N.Y.), No. 17 Chris Barnes (Flower Mound, Texas) and No. 24 Riga Kalfas (Florence, Ky.), becoming just the third man in Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) history to finish 12-0 in single-elimination match play. Duke posted a 300 in his third win over Kalfas.
“I’ve been in a zone before, but I didn’t feel like I was in a zone today,” said Duke, who joins Randy Pedersen and Chris Hayden as the only bowlers to accomplish the 12-0 feat. “I’m fresh mentally after taking last week off and I feel driven because I haven’t been happy with my start.”
Duke, who is a part of the ESPN announcing crew for the Denny’s PBA Tour when he doesn’t make the finals, will step out of the booth to face No. 5 Michael Haugen Jr. in Sunday’s first semifinal.
Haugen (Cave Creek, Ariz.) put an end to No. 4 Pete Weber’s quest to win back-to-back titles after winning last week’s Etonic Championship in Cheektowaga, N.Y. Haugen dropped his first game to Weber (St. Ann, Mo.) before rebounding for four straight wins.
The other half of the bracket will feature No. 2 Mika Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.) taking on No. 22 Steve Rogers (Bourbonnais, Ill.).
Koivuniemi advanced after splitting the first two games with Tommy Delutz Jr. (Flushing, N.Y.). He responded with three straight wins, topping the 240 mark in all four games.
Rogers, who advanced through the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round (TQR), defeated No. 3 Jack Jurek, 4-2. Rogers fell in a 2-1 hole to Jurek (Lackawanna, N.Y.) before posting three consecutive wins, finishing with a 244-222 win in game six. He is the fourth bowler ever to advance from the TQR to the championship round.
The four bowlers 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 a one-season Denny’s PBA Tour exemption.
Haugen dedicated his performance to his grandmother, Bettie Wolenchuk, who fell ill this week. Haugen received a phone call from family members this week who broke the news to him. He considered heading home, but his family told him "just make the show this week."
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