LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla., will have an opportunity to move into a tie for third place on the all-time PBA titles list after advancing to the finals of the Pepsi PBA Elite Players Championship Wednesday at South Point Bowling Center.
Duke, currently tied with fellow hall of famer Mark Roth for fourth place on the PBA career titles list with 34, eliminated Bill O’Neill of Southampton, Pa.; Andres Gomez of Colombia, and Dan MacLelland of Windsor, Ontario, in the Elite Players Eliminator Round to reach the finals. Roth was in the crowd, watching as Duke defeat O’Neill, 484-438, in their two-game finale.
Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., who was eliminated in his final match Wednesday by Mike DeVaney of Murrieta, Calif., is third on the PBA titles list with 35, trailing leader Walter Ray Williams Jr. (47) and Earl Anthony (43). DeVaney knocked Weber out of the event, 473-425, to win his group’s berth in the finals.
“Bowling in the Elite Players Championship was like bowling three different formats in one, so you can imagine what that can do with your mind,” Duke said about surviving 30 qualifying games just to reach the Eliminator Round. “The physical part of the game is demanding enough, but mentally it’s even more tiring. You start to space out after a while and lose track of the little things like where you’re standing, how fast should I be throwing it, what ball you’re using. The one thing that helps is you’re not alone. I say to myself, look at the rest of the field – they’re going through the same thing.”
Regarding his quest to break his titles tie with Roth and catch Weber, the 47-year-old Duke said, “I look at everything I do now as to how will it round out my career. How much longer do I have? To be tied with Roth and have the chance to tie Weber, how great is that?”
In Wednesday’s Eliminator Round, 16 players were divided into four groups for two-game elimination rounds. After each round, the lowest scoring player was eliminated. In addition to Duke and DeVaney, the other two players advancing to the Elite Players Championship finals were Australia’s Jason Belmonte and Mike Scroggins of Amarillo, Texas.
Belmonte defeated Mike Fagan of Dallas, 473-407, to qualify for his fifth World Series television final, tying a World Series record for TV appearances set earlier in the event by Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill. Scroggins eliminated Jason Couch of Clermont, Fla., 460-417, in their group’s final game.
The 16 Eliminator Round qualifiers will also compose the field for the Lumber Liquidators Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship which will be contested on Sunday as part of a four-day PBA World Series of Bowling television extravaganza at South Point.
Ronnie Russell of Marion, Ind., the top qualifier going into the Eliminator Round, was eliminated in the first game in Group A, but he will be the first player to select a doubles partner from among the remaining 15 during a special doubles selection session Thursday afternoon. After Russell selects his partner, the next highest qualifier will select a partner. That process will continue until the field of eight doubles teams has been determined. The doubles competition will be conducted Sunday afternoon as part of the World Series of Bowling’s weekend television package.
Beginning Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Pacific, the PBA will produce the first of 14 television shows for delayed telecast on ESPN in a special arena in South Point’s Exhibit Hall A. Admission is free for all of the shows.
PEPSI PBA ELITE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
South Point Bowling Center, Las Vegas, Nov. 16
ELIMINATOR ROUND (Two games, lowest scoring player eliminated; group winners advance to ESPN finals)
Round One: Pete Weber 472, Mike DeVaney 463, Sean Rash 444, Ronnie Russell 378 (Russell eliminated, earned $3,000).
Round Two: DeVaney 457, Weber 416, Rash 401 (Rash eliminated, earned $3,500).
Round Three: DeVaney 473, Weber 425 (Weber eliminated, earned $5,000).
Round One: Jason Couch 441, Mike Scroggins 439, Ryan Ciminelli 436, Wes Malott 410 (Malott eliminated, earned $3,000).
Round Two: Scroggins 484, Couch 419, Ciminelli 400 (Ciminelli eliminated, earned $3,500).
Round Three: Scroggins 460, Couch 417 (Couch eliminated, earned $5,000).
Round One: Andres Gomez 531, Norm Duke 487, Bill O’Neill 479, Dan MacLelland 445 (MacLelland eliminated, earned $3,000).
Round Two: O’Neill 495, Duke 458, Gomez 427 (Gomez eliminated, earned $3,500).
Round Three: Duke 484, O’Neill 438 (O’Neill eliminated, earned $5,000).
Round One: Mike Fagan 495, Jason Belmonte 482, Martin Larsen 381, Dick Allen 335 (Allen eliminated, earned $3,000).
Round Two: Belmonte 494, Fagan 411, Larsen 410 (Larsen eliminated, earned $3,500).
Round Three: Belmonte 473, Fagan 407 (Fagan eliminated, earned $5,000).
Final Qualifying Standings (after 30 games; top 16 advanced to Eliminator Round and to Lumber Liquidators Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship)
1, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 7,294.
2, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 7,150.
3, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 7,134.
4, Mike Fagan, Dallas, 7,069.
5, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 7,039.
6, Bill O'Neill, Southampton, Pa., 6,976.
7, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 6,942.
8, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 6,917.
9, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 6,903.
10, Jason Couch, Clermont, Fla., 6,896.
11, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 6,889.
12, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 6,863.
13, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., 6,829.
14, Dan MacLelland, Saginaw, Mich., 6,796.
15, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 6,776.
16, Mike DeVaney, Murrieta, Calif., 6,760.
Did not advance:
17 (tie), Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., and Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 6,759, $2,490.
19, Patrick Allen, Baltimore, 6,756, $2,460.
20, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 6,746, $2,440.
21, Michael Haugen Jr., Carefree, Ariz., 6,745, $2,420.
22, Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla., 6,727, $2,400.
23, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 6,719, $2,390.
24, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 6,717, $2,380.
25, Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, 6,688, $2,370.
26, Brian Kretzer, Dayton, Ohio, 6,671, $2,360.
27, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 6,655, $2,350.
28, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., 6,631, $2,340.
29, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 6,616, $2,330.
30, Steve Jaros, Yorkville, Ill., 6,605, $2,320.
31, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 6,550, $2,410.
32, Tyler Jensen, Ft. Worth, Texas, 6,483, $2,300.