It didn’t take long for PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke to make an impact on the PBA50 Tour. In his rookie season on the tour for players ages 50 and older, the 37-time PBA Tour champion from Clermont, Florida, became only the second player to earn PBA50 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the same season.
Despite the great season Duke had, two other PBA greats – Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Pete Weber – led the PBA50 Tour statistical races, claiming the top spots in average, earnings and competition points over the course of the 11-tournament campaign.
Duke, who won two titles in 2014 including the Suncoast PBA Senior U.S. Open presented by Dexter for his first major, joined fellow hall of famer Tom Baker (2005) as the second player to earn the PBA50 Tour’s top awards in the same year. Pete Couture, Mark Roth, Wayne Webb and Williams have also won both honors, but not in the same year. Duke also joins Webb, Williams, and Roth as the only players to earn PBA Tour and PBA50 Tour Player of the Year crowns.
In addition to his two victories, Duke had three other top-five finishes in the seven tournaments he entered, including second-place finishes in the Dayton Classic presented by Roto Grip and Pasco County Open to win Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, which are based on points awarded for championship round appearances. He finished second in average (233.63), fourth in competition points (141,226) and fourth in earnings ($33,940).
Williams, another two-time winner in 2014 including the USBC Senior Masters for his first PBA50 major title, fell short of his third straight PBA50 Player of the Year title, but he did manage to repeat as earnings ($45,313) and competition points leader (196,062) for the third consecutive year. He also had eight other top-10 finishes, including third-place finishes in the Grants Pass Open presented by Track and Pasco County Open.
Weber, who won one title and had seven other top-10 finishes including runner-up finishes in the Senior U.S. Open and Miller High Life Classic presented by Columbia 300, led the average list for the second year in a row, scoring at a PBA50 Tour-record 234.79 pace for 268 games for a one-plus-pin lead over Duke (233.63). Weber finished second in competition points (178,220) and third in earnings ($35,145).
Baker, who made a run at a record fifth PBA50 Player of the Year crown, also won two titles, but a second-place finish to Williams in the season-ending PBA50 Treasure Island Resort & Casino Open presented by Hammer ended his bid to overtake Duke. Baker, who turns 60 Sept. 12, finished second in earnings ($37,980), third in competition points (166,737) and ninth in average (226.01).
By virtue of finishing in the top eight in competition points, Williams, Weber, Baker, Duke and four others in the top eight earned paid entries into PBA World Series of Bowling VI and a berth in the PBA50 Tour Finals, which will result in a berth for two players in a PBA Challenge telecast on ESPN. Hall of Famers Parker Bohn III and Amleto Monacelli, two-time PBA50 Player of the Year Ron Mohr and three-time PBA50 Tour winner Harry Sullins also qualified for the finals. Those eight will bowl an eight-game round-robin match play event on Friday, Oct. 24, to determine the PBA Challenge finalists.
Adding to his lengthy portfolio of PBA honors, PBA Hall of Famer and the 1998 PBA50 Rookie of the Year Johnny Petraglia earned Super Senior Player of the Year for players 60 and over as competition points leader among his 60-and-older peers. He had three top-10 finishes, including a second-place finish in the PBA50 Dick Weber Super Senior Classic presented by Storm.
For complete PBA50 Tour stats, click here.