MILWAUKEE, Wis. – In a battle that went down to the second ball in the final frame, Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, out-dueled Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla., 246-237, to win his 15th PBA Tour title in the Lucas Oil PBA Milwaukee Open at AMF Bowlero.
The fourth of five GEICO PBA Summer Swing presented by Lucas Oil telecasts aired Tuesday on CBS Sports Network.
The Milwaukee Open, featuring the top qualifiers from the PBA Badger, Wolf and Bear Open tournaments held earlier in the Summer Swing, came down to a pair of classic matches involving three of the six members of the elite PBA “Triple Crown” club – Barnes, Duke and PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo. (Billy Hardwick, Johnny Petraglia and Mike Aulby are the other three Triple Crown winners; Weber is the only player to win all three major championships – U.S. Open, PBA World Championship and PBA Tournament of Champions – twice).
After Mike Fagan of Fort Worth, Texas, defeated Jason Sterner of McDonough, Ga., 198-182, to start the Milwaukee Open finals, Duke eliminated Fagan in the second match, 238-194.
That win set up a semifinal match between Duke and Weber, who are tied for third place on the all-time PBA Tour titles list with 37 each, and who have met each other in televised matches only three previous times in their 30-plus-year careers. In those matches – each in a different decade – Weber held a 2-1 edge (he beat Duke in the 1986 St. Louis Open semifinal match, 247-234; lost to Duke in the 1997 Ebonite Challenge title match in Windsor Locks, Conn., 236-194, and beat Duke, 260-227, in the semifinal match of the 2001 Greater Louisville Open).
Duke evened the score in a match that was never more than 10 pins apart, 225-217, when Weber left a solid 9 pin on his second shot in the 10th frame after striking on his first ball in the 10th.
But Barnes ruined Duke’s bid to break his titles tie with Weber in an equally exciting title match. Barnes struck on five of his first six shots, building a 20-pin lead after five frames, but Duke responded with a string of four strikes to take a 188-187 lead after eight frames. Barnes struck in the ninth and on his first two shots in the 10th frame, finishing with a nine-count. Duke ran his strike string to four on his first attempt in the 10th frame, but left a 10 pin on his second shot to give Barnes the victory.
“My matches with Norm have always been interesting, going back to 2000 when the winner (of the MSN Open in Tucson) was probably the difference in who won Player of the Year,” Barnes said (Duke beat Barnes in that title match, 236-228, and went on to win PBA Player of the Year).
“I won today, but I wouldn’t say I evened things with Norm,” he added. “And you hate to win on another guy’s bad break. (Duke) put every shot in the pocket down the stretch, like he always does, and leaving that 10 pin was a bad break.
“But I have figured out a way to finish matches,” Barnes added. “I think that’s been a big change in my game over the past few years. I don’t feel like I need to be ahead going into the 10th frame; I just need a chance to force the other guy to make a shot, and this time it worked out.”
Barnes said retired PBA Tour champion Mark Baker detected a flaw in Barnes’ approach that helped him correct his well-known television woes.
“There were some mistakes I was making on TV, and when I started working with Mark Baker, he noticed whenever I’d get to a point where I really needed to make a shot to put the match away, I’d get forward with my spine tilt and it would change the result into something bad. Right after that, I went win, win and was a stone 8 pin away from a third title in four weeks. Ever since then, Mark Baker’s been my coach.”
The GEICO King of the Swing – a special event concluding the GEICO PBA Summer Swing presented by Lucas Oil - will air next Tuesday, July 9, at 7 p.m. ET. The field of players who advanced to the finals included the Badger, Wolf, Bear and Milwaukee Open champions plus a “wild card” player, all seeded in the stepladder finals based upon Summer Swing points. The “King of the Swing” field will include Barnes, the top qualifier and Milwaukee Open winner; Wolf Open winner Chris Loschetter of Avon, Ohio; Bear Open winner Jason Belmonte of Australia; Badger Open winner Jake Peters of Decatur, Ill., and Duke, the wild card qualifier as high points-getter in the Summer Swing without a title.
To find CBS Sports Network in your home market, visit: http://www.cbssportsnetwork.com/channel-finder. Summer Swing finals also will be available on a delayed basis on PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel approximately one week after the original air date.
LUCAS OIL MILWAUKEE OPEN
AMF Bowlero, Wauwatosa, Wis.
Final Standings: 1, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, $15,000. 2, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., $8,000. 3, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., $7,000. 4, Mike Fagan, Fort Worth, Texas, $6,000. 5, Jason Sterner, McDonough, Ga., $5,000.
Stepladder Results: Match One – Fagan def. Sterner, 198-182. Match Two – Duke def. Fagan, 238-194. Semifinal Match – Duke def. Weber, 225-217. Championship – Barnes def. Duke, 246-237.