A week-long break on the Lumber Liquidators Professional Bowlers Association Tour was a welcome relief for PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke.
Coming off a disappointing 39th place-finish in the H & R Block Tournament of Champions two weeks ago, a rested Duke defeated Michael Fagan 278-168 in the championship match to win the Denny’s Dick Weber Open Sunday at Fountain Bowl.
“That week off was everything,” said Duke, who was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame the same week as the Tournament of Champions. “I needed it mentally—if there wasn’t this break on Tour I would have probably taken a week off anyway.”
Duke’s win was the 32nd of his career tying him for fifth all-time with fellow Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III. In addition to coming into the tournament with renewed focus, the Clermont, Fla., resident admitted to a little added inspiration from the late Dick Weber.
“When I started the practice session I noticed Dick’s photo on a banner and I thought if I’m going to win this tournament I better bowl like Dick Weber,” said the 44-year-old Duke. “It means a lot.”
For Duke it was his third victory of the season having won the PBA World Championship to start the season, becoming the first player to win three consecutive majors. He also won the Don and Paula Carter Mixed Doubles with Liz Johnson in January.
Duke, who won a $35,000 first prize, held off the hard-charging Fagan who won three consecutive matches from his No. 5 qualifying position to get to the championship match.
The 28-year-old Fagan opened the stepladder by defeating reigning PBA Player of the Year and 10-time titlist Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, 204-183, then beat four-time Tour titlist Ryan Shafer of Horseheads, N.Y., 256-223, and Hall of Famer and 34-time titlist Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., 243-201.
“I really didn’t have high expectations and I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me,” said Fagan, who was trying for his first individual PBA Tour title. “I felt good going into the last match but the lanes were breaking down pretty quickly. I was just hoping I could get one more good game out of it.
“But when Norm’s on his game there’s really not much you can do.”
Fagan, of Patchogue, N.Y., won the PBA Exempt Doubles Classic with Danny Wiseman in 2008 for his lone Tour victory.
Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour
Denny’s Dick Weber Open
Fountain Bowl – Fountain Valley, Calif.
February 8, 2009
1, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla. 278 (one game) $35,000
2, Michael Fagan, Patchogue, N.Y. 871 (four games) $17,500
3, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo. 201 (one game) $ 9,000
4, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y. 223 (one game) $ 7,000
5. Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas 183 (one game) $ 5,000
Match One – Fagan def. Barnes, 204-183
Match Two – Fagan def. Shafer, 256-223
Semifinal Match – Fagan def. Weber, 243-201
Championship Match – Duke def. Fagan, 278-168