Sweet win for Virginia Norton’s son

by Bob Johnson 0

Attorney Scott Norton of Costa Mesa, Calif., held court for the first time as a full-time Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour competitor in the title match of the Chameleon Championship at South Point Bowling Center, and he won his case.

Norton, a 28-year-old left-hander who passed his California bar exam a year ago, delivered a powerful opening statement in his first PBA Tour television appearance, starting the title match with eight strikes before converting a 4-7 spare in the 8th frame in easily defeating Sean Rash, 256-181. Rash had won three consecutive matches to reach the championship contest.

“It’s pretty amazing. I’ve worked a long time for this,” Norton beamed. “It’s an unbelievable, crazy feeling. I was unconscious for a lot of that match.”

The son of PWBA and WIBC/USBC Hall of Famer Virginia Norton earned his opportunity to bowl as an exempt player for the 2010-11 season by winning the 2009 PBA Regional Players Invitational. This season may be his rookie year as a full-time tour competitor, but he came into it fully prepared.

“I got to grow up watching my mother bowl, and I got to see her on TV and wondered what that would be like,” he said. “I got to see her inducted into both halls of fame, and I always kinda dreamed and hoped that I could do that someday, too.”

The physical game he learned under his mother’s wing, and the mental game he learned under Team USA sports psychologist Dean Hinitz after winning the 2000 U.S. Amateur Championship, helped explain his composure as he threw a near-perfect game at Rash.

“I knew I could come out here (on tour) and compete,” he said. “I knew I could make shots, but sometimes that’s not enough. It just happened to be in the cards today that I was able to make shots and have it work out.

“Seriously, I don’t remember half of that game. I just remember getting up and saying the same things to myself, over and over. I told myself I was going to hit my target and execute, and that set the tone. I was really able to stay within myself. I couldn’t see anything to either side. I really thought I was going to have a problem with the lights and people and the camera on the ball return, but when we got started, I didn’t see any of that. All I saw was the lane and the pins.

“When I got up in the 9th frame, I really wasn’t thinking about 300,” Norton added. “I realized I was going to win, and that’s the only thing that was going through my mind.

“Now I know I can compete against these people. That show included an amazing group of players who are going to wind up in the hall of fame. To be able to go out there and beat them really meant a lot to me. It really gives me a boost of confidence to know I can do it.”

Rash, who had experienced a series of disappointments on television over the past two seasons, looked almost unbeatable in eliminating Finland’s two-handed star, Osku Palermaa, 236-211; Chris Barnes, 227-175, and Wes Malott, 235-217. But he couldn’t keep up with Norton’s strike barrage in the title contest.

For more on Norton’s victory, including comments from his hall of famer mother, be sure to check out the December issue of Bowlers Journal International.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.