Duke withstands challenge from Tom Baker to become second player in PBA50 history–and first since 2005–to win Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year in same season
Walter Ray Williams Jr. won his ninth career PBA50 Tour title and Norm Duke withstood a challenge from Tom Baker for PBA50 Tour Player of the Year in the PBA50 Treasure Island Resort & Casino Open presented by Hammer Wednesday at Island Xtreme Bowl in Welch, Minn.
In another all-Hall of Fame championship match, Williams, who won the USBC Senior Masters for his first title of the season, defeated Baker 268-224 in the championship match. With a win Baker could have earned the 16 points necessary to move ahead of Duke of Clermont, Fla., for the Player of the Year title.
“It’s a great way to end a season,” said Williams, who is the PBA Tour’s all-time titles leader with 47 wins. “I had a good season and when you can win against the talent that’s out here now it makes it that much more satisfying.
“I think Norm owes me dinner but you can’t take anything away from him – he bowled awesome all year,” Williams added.
Duke left the door open for Baker to make a run at Player of the Year when the two Hall of Famers slugged it out in the Round of 8 with Baker winning the best-of-three match 2 games to 1.
Duke’s closest competitor in the Player of the Year race going into the tournament was Hall of Famer Pete Weber, who was just eight points behind, but had to withdraw from the tournament prior to match play because of illness which required a hospital visit. He was treated and released.
In the semifinal matches, Baker defeated Hall of Famer Randy Pedersen of Orlando, Fla., 246-162, and Williams defeated Don Breeden of Urbandale, Iowa, 279-190, to advance to the championship match.
Williams’ 268 game in the title match and the 279 in the semifinal match were his highest games of the tournament.
“I saved the best for last and that was the time to have them,” Williams said. “Earlier in the day I wasn’t really executing as well as I wanted but I was able to fine tune my adjustments at the right time.”
Duke, who won two titles this season, including the Senior U.S. Open, joined Baker as the only players to win PBA50 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the same season. Baker, of King, N.C., earned both honors in 2005, which was the start of a record four consecutive PBA50 Player of the Year crowns for the 12-time PBA50 Tour winner.
“Player of the Year is what you aspire to and it’s the pinnacle of the year,” Duke said. “When I got beat in the Round of 8, the ball wasn’t in my court and that’s never a comfortable situation, but either way, I had a blast all season.”
Also determined at the conclusion of the tournament, which was seen live on PBA’s online bowling channel Xtra Frame, were the top eight players in competition points who earned an entry into World Series of Bowling VI in Las Vegas Oct. 24-Nov. 2 and a berth in the World Series PBA Champions Challenge PBA50 qualifier, which will determine the final two players who will compete in the finals to be televised by ESPN.
The eight who qualified were Williams, Weber, Baker, Duke, Parker Bohn III, Amleto Monacelli, Harry Sullins and Ron Mohr.
PBA50 TREASURE ISLAND RESORT & CASINO OPEN PRESENTED BY HAMMER
Wednesday’s final results
At Island Xtreme Bowl
Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla. ($7,500) def. Tom Baker, King, N.C. ($4,000), 268-224.
Semifinal Round (one-game matches, losers earn $2,300)
Baker def. Randy Pedersen, Orlando, 246-162.
Williams def. Don Breeden, Urbandale, Iowa, 279-190.
Round of 8 (best-of-three games, losers eliminated, earn $1,600)
Breeden def. Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 2-0.
Williams def. Jeff Richgels, Madison, Wis., 2-0.
Baker def. Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 2-1.
Pedersen def. Harry Sullins, Chesterfield Twp., Mich., 2-1.
Round of 16 (best-of-five games, losers eliminated, earn $1,300)
Duke def. Ted Staikoff, Black Hawk, S.D., 3-2.
Baker def. Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 3-0, (Weber withdrew because of illness).
Pedersen def. Mike Dias, Lafayette, Colo., 3-0.
Richgels def. Lennie Boresch Jr., Kenosha, Wis., 3-0.
Williams def. Ron Mohr, Las Vegas, 3-1.
Sullins def. Bill Henson, Westerville, Ohio, 3-1.
Breeden def. Mike Edwards, Tulsa, Okla., 3-1.
Monacelli def. Wayne Webb, Columbus, Ohio, 3-2.
Round of 24 (best-of-five games, losers eliminated, earn $1,100)
Staikoff def. Bryan Goebel, Shawnee, Kan., 3-2.
Baker def John Dudak, Orland Park, Ill., 3-1.
Dias def. Dave Axon, Bellevue, Neb., 3-1.
Henson def. Kevin Foley, Reno, Nev., 3-1.
Richgels def. Steve Stein, Staten Island, N.Y., 3-1.
Williams def. Terry Metzner, Kentwood, Mich., 3-0.
Webb def. Darron Peters, Murrietta, Calif., 3-2.
Breeden def. Chris Keane, Cape Coral, Fla., 3-2.