Click here to view this article as a PDFThis Week
A half dozen of the top bowlers on the Denny's PBA Tour will gather in Orlando, Fla., this week for the fourth annual Motel 6 Roll to Riches, a season-ending special event with a winner-take-all $150,000 top prize, the biggest pay off in professional bowling. The event will take place Tuesday, April 8 at 6 p.m. ET at Colonial Lanes and will air as two back-to-back one-hour shows on ESPN Sunday, April 13 at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. ET.
This season's Major winners - Norm Duke, Michael Haugen Jr. and Sean Rash - will be joined by defending champion Doug Kent and Parker Bohn III and Chris Barnes, who both earned berths in the event via a fan vote. Barnes watched last weekend as Duke won his second Major of the season to give Barnes a chance to win his third Motel 6 Roll to Riches event.
Duke is the only bowler to appear in all four Roll to Riches events, while Barnes will be making his third appearance. Kent will look to make it back-to-back wins after defeating Duke, 6-3, in last year's Race to Six Strikes, while Bohn, Haugen and Rash will each be making their Roll to Riches debut. Last Time Out
Just six weeks ago, Norm Duke was 51st in the PBA World Point Rankings and was on the verge of the unthinkable - losing his Denny's PBA Tour exemption. Now, he's cemented his place in the history books as one of the most accomplished bowlers of all-time.
Duke won the one title he has wanted more than any other but had eluded him so many times before, running the ladder to win three matches and capture the 65th Denny's U.S. Open at Brunswick Zone Carolier to win his second consecutive Major and the fourth of his career.
After earning the No. 3 seed for the finals, Duke dominated Doug Kent in the first match, 234-160, then got by Chris Loschetter, 267-245, looking unstoppable along the way. He then faced top seed Mika Koivuniemi in the title match. Koivuniemi held the lead later but faltered in the eighth and Duke capitalized with strikes in the eighth and ninth frames, setting up a 10th frame in which he only needed a mark to win.
Knowing he was close to the biggest win of his career, Duke made one of his few mistakes on Sunday, leaving the 2-4-5-8 "bucket." Needing the spare for the win, Duke took a deep breath and cleaned up the spare and put himself in the record books as just the second bowler (Mike Aulby) to complete the "Grand Slam," a win in the USBC Masters, Tournament of Champions, World Championship and U.S. Open. This Week's Schedule
Festivities for the Motel 6 Roll to Riches get underway Monday evening with a special Pro-Am with the six participants at Colonia Lanes at 7 p.m. ET. On Tuesday, an official practice session will be held for the six participants from 1:30-2:30 p.m. before the competition gets underway at 6 p.m.
The format for this year's Roll to Riches will be the same as the last three years with a Challenge Round to start where bowlers will participate in one-ball roll-offs in which the lowest score in each round will be dropped into the First Elimination Round. The last two bowlers standing will earn byes into the Second Elimination Round. The Elimination Rounds will consist of six-frame matches with a max score of 180. The two winners of the First Elimination Round matches will face the two bowlers awaiting them in the Second Elimination Round with those two winners squaring off in the "Race to Six Strikes."
The first bowler in the final match to bowl six strikes will take home the $150,000 top prize. The Roll to Riches does not count toward official PBA titles and earnings. Did You Know
Had Norm Duke beat Tony Reyes in last season's PBA Tournament of Champions semifinal and gone on to win the title, Duke would have equaled Jim Pencak's record of 16 consecutive wins on television with his three wins in the 65th Denny's U.S. Open.
Duke is 14-1 on TV in his last seven appearances dating back to his win in the 2006 Ace Hardware Championship. Duke went 7-1 last season, going 3-0 in the Columbia 300 Classic and 2-0 in the Lake County Indiana Classic and Pepsi Championship. His nine-game win streak was broken by Reyes but he bounced back to win all five of his matches this season.A Meaningful Spare
Norm Duke's spare in the 10th frame just might have been the most important spare he ever picked up, considering how much was on the line. Below is a list of accomplishments Duke can cross off his list thanks for that one little spare:
- Second bowler to win the "Grand Slam," joining Mike Aulby as the only bowlers to win the USBC Masters, Tournament of Champions, World Championship and U.S. Open.
- Fifth bowler to win the "Triple Crown," joining Aulby, Billy Hardwick, Johnny Petraglia and Pete Weber as the only bowlers to win the T of C, World Championship and U.S. Open.
- Fifth bowler in history to win back-to-back Majors.
- Sixth No. 3 seed ever to win the U.S. Open and first since Dave Husted in 1996.
- Seventh bowler in history to win two Majors in a season.
- Moved into sixth all-time with 28 titles.
- Moved into a tie for fifth all-time with four Majors.
- Tied Mike Aulby for fifth all-time with 80 career wins on television.Nightmare to Dream
Norm Duke's 2007-08 season was on the verge of being one of the worst of his career, but he turned things around completely to turn 2007-08 into one of his most memorable seasons.
In the final five weeks, Duke went from 51st in the PBA World Point Rankings to 15th, and he went from 56th in earnings going into the World Championship to first at season¡¯s end with $176,855. It marks the third time in his career and the first time since 2000 he led the Tour in earnings. Duke also moved up to third in the PBA Player of the Year points race after being runner-up to Doug Kent in the Player of the Year vote last season. He'll Take It
While the 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year race didn't come to the ideal finish fans had hoped for, with neither Chris Barnes or Walter Ray Williams Jr. making the finals of the 65th Denny's U.S. Open, Barnes is more than happy to take it any way he can get it.
On the strength of a Tour-high nine championship round appearances and two titles, Barnes won the PBA Player of the Year award for the first time in his 10-year career, edging the all-time titles leader Williams by just two points and denying him his record-breaking seventh career
PBA Player of the Year award.
Barnes finished the season first in TV appearances (9) and match play appearances (18), tied for the lead in top-eight finishes (10), finished second in points and average (225.18) and fifth in earnings ($142,410). His two victories both came in the second half of the season and both came after a crushing victory in the H&R Block Tournament of Champions where a missed single-pin conversion cost Barnes his third career Major. Rather than let the loss deflate him, Barnes showed his grit by winning the very next event, the Bayer Classic in El Paso, Texas, then won three weeks later in the Don Johnson Buckeye State Classic in Columbus, Ohio.
With the hardware, Barnes joins Mike Aulby and Tommy Jones as the only bowlers to win both the PBA Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards in their career. Still Great at 48
While he came up just short of his seventh Player of the Year honor, Walter Ray Williams Jr. still put up incredible numbers in 2007-08.
The PBA Hall of Famer won his seventh George Young High Average Award, breaking a tie with Mark Roth for most seasons leading the Tour in average. Williams' 228.34 average was just shy of Norm Duke's PBA record 228.47 set last season and was the highest of his career.
Williams also led the PBA World Point Rankings to win his record seventh Harry Smith Point Leader Award. The award has been given out 21 times meaning Williams has won one-third of the Harry Smith Point Leader Awards.Foregone Conclusion?
While it's almost certain Rhino Page will win the PBA Rookie of the Year award, the result is still subject to a membership vote which will open this week to PBA members by logging on to www.pba.com.
Page led rookies in every category, winning one title and making a Tour rookie record five championship round appearances which resulted in a No. 9 world ranking. Page also set a new PBA record for rookie earnings with $84,811, breaking C.K. Moore's record of $71,565 in 1996. Page made match play 11 times in 19 events despite having to qualify through the Denny's PBA Tour Qualifying Round each week.
Other rookies who put up solid numbers were Steve Harman, who finished 34th in the PBA World Point Rankings to regain his exemption, and qualifiers P.J. Haggerty and Ryan Ciminelli, who each made three match play appearances. Up for Debate
While it won't change the result, a debate could rage on about the 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year in the first season in which a point system was used to determine the winner.
Had this year's results happened in any other season, it would be a tough one to call. While it's hard to argue with the consistency of Chris Barnes and Walter Ray Williams Jr., who combined for 17 TV appearances, neither bowler won a Major and each made just one appearance in a Major championship round.
And while he did virtually nothing in the first 16 events - mostly due to injuries - Norm Duke made one of the greatest late-season runs in history, winning the final two Majors which may have been fresh enough in voters minds to give Duke the edge to win his third Player of the Year Award.
What would have made this season's decision difficult was that no bowler won more than two titles for the first time since the 1995 season. A total of six bowlers won two titles this season - Barnes, Duke, Michael Haugen Jr., Tommy Jones, Mike Scroggins and Williams.
In that 1995 season, six bowlers also won two titles, including Jason Couch, Duke, Dave D'Entremont, Dave Husted, Jess Stayrook and Danny Wiseman. Duke earned the edge that season as he led the Tour in earnings with $143,325, thanks to a win in the 2000 National Championship, a runner-up finish in the U.S. Open and third-place finish in the Tournament of Champions. End of the Line?
Unfortunately for many bowlers, the 65th Denny's U.S. Open didn't end the way they would have liked. A pair of great champions in Dave D'Entremont and Brian Himmler were unable to regain their exemptions for the 2008-09 season as both needed to finish in the top 10 in the U.S. Open to even have a chance.
D'Entremont didn't even get the opportunity to make a run. After finishing fourth in last year's U.S. Open, D'Entremont suffered a severe cut to his leg on practice day in North Brunswick and was unable to compete. Himmler, meanwhile, made a valiant run but fell just shy of advancing to match play, finishing 32nd. D'Entremont finished the season 45th in points while Himmler finished 44th.
Bowlers who did just enough to get by were Dino Castillo, who finished 33rd in the U.S. Open to move up to 35th in points. Joe Ciccone didn't fare as well as he would have liked in New Jersey, placing 72nd but it was just enough to finish the season 37th. Ken Simard and Billy Oatman took the final two exemptions, finishing 81st and 105th in the U.S. Open, respectively to sneak by. Oatman beat out Ronnie Russell by just 158 points. Below is a look at the final numbers:
2007-08 Denny¡¯s PBA Tour Statistical Leaders
|36.||Michael Haugen Jr.||105,226.7|
|39.||Billy Oatman||100,585.5||CUT LINE|
|1.||Walter Ray Williams Jr.||Ocala, Fla.||258,326.5|
|2.||Chris Barnes||Double Oak, Texas||237,768.2|
|3.||Wes Malott||Argyle, Texas||231,148.5|
|4.||Mika Koivuniemi||Hartland, Mich.||207,641.5|
|5.||Mike Scroggins||Amarillo, Texas||187,837.5|
|6.||Patrick Allen||Wesley Chapel, Fla.||184,085|
|7.||Tommy Jones||Simpsonville, S.C.||175,429|
|8.||Chris Loschetter||Avon, Ohio||171,165|
|9.||Rhino Page||Topeka, Kan.||167,921. 7|
|10.||Sean Rash||Wichita, Kan.||164,349|
|1.||Norm Duke||Clermont, Fla.||$176,855|
|2.||Mika Koivuniemi||Hartland, Mich.||$159,580|
|3.||Sean Rash||Wichita, Kan.||$151,500|
|4.||Walter Ray Williams Jr.||Ocala, Fla.||$144,220|
|5.||Chris Barnes||Double Oak, Texas||$142,510|
|6.||Wes Malott||Argyle, Texas||$108,900|
|7.||Patrick Allen||Wesley Chapel, Fla.||$107,780|
|8.||Tommy Jones||Simpsonville, S.C.||$103,605|
|9.||Michael Haugen Jr.||Cave Creek, Ariz.||$101,820|
|10.||Mike Scroggins||Amarillo, Texas||$100,500|
Match Play Appearances
|1.||Walter Ray Williams Jr.||Ocala, Fla.||228.34|
|2.||Chris Barnes||Double Oak, Texas||225.18|
|3.||Wes Malott||Argyle, Texas||223.77|
|4.||Rhino Page||Topeka, Kan.||223.42|
|5.||Patrick Allen||Wesley Chapel, Fla.||222.19|
|6.||Mike Scroggins||Amarillo, Texas||221.89|
|7.||Mika Koivuniemi||Hartland, Mich.||221.69|
|8.||Pete Weber||St. Ann, Mo.||221.16|
|9.||Michael Haugen Jr.||Cave Creek, Ariz.||220.89|
|10.||Tommy Jones||Simpsonville, S.C.||220.27|
Championship Round Appearances
|1.||Chris Barnes||Double Oak, Texas||18|
|2.||Walter Ray Williams Jr.||Ocala, Fla.||17|
|3.||Mika Koivuniemi||Hartland, Mich.||16|
|4.||Wes Malott||Argyle, Texas||15|
|Tommy Jones||Simpsonville, S.C.||15|
|Mike Scroggins||Amarillo, Texas||15|
|Brad Angelo||Lockport, N.Y.||15|
|8.||Chris Loschetter||Avon, Ohio||14|
|Ryan Shafer||Horseheads, N.Y.||14|
|Pete Weber||St. Ann, Mo.||14|
|Tommy Delutz Jr.||Flushing, N.Y.||14|
|Mitch Beasley||Arlington, Texas||14|
PBA Player of the Year Rankings
|1.||Chris Barnes||Double Oak, Texas||9|
|2.||Walter Ray Williams Jr.||Ocala, Fla.||8|
|3.||Wes Malott||Argyle, Texas||6|
|Mika Koivuniemi||Hartland, Mich.||6|
|Mike Scroggins||Amarillo, Texas||6|
|6.||Patrick Allen||Wesley Chapel, Fla.||5|
|Rhino Page||Topeka, Kan.||5|
|8.||Pete Weber||St. Ann, Mo.||4|
|9.||Six Tied With||3 |
|2.||Walter Ray Williams Jr.||62|
|5.||Michael Haugen Jr.||40|
|Parker Bohn III||26|
|28.||Tommy Delutz Jr.||7|