Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla., and partner Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, will try to repeat as Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship winners after racing away to the No. 1 qualifying position for the stepladder finals on Feb. 15 in Indianapolis.
Duke, who stands 5-foot-6, and Malott, his 6-foot-4 partner, dominated Friday’s match play rounds at AMF Bowlero, averaging a combined 238.44 for 48 games of qualifying and match play to finish with 11,835 pins. The 2011 Roth/Holman doubles champions – the last time the event was held – finished 343 pins ahead of Dino Castillo of Carrollton, Texas, and his partner, Tom Daugherty of Wesley Chapel, Fla.
Also qualifying for the Baker format stepladder finals which will be held at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis on Sunday, Feb. 15, are Australia’s Jason Belmonte and Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa.; No. 4 D.J. Archer of Friendswood, Texas, and Shawn Maldonado of Houston, Texas, and No. 5 Dom Barrett of England and Osku Palermaa of Finland.
Throughout the doubles event, Duke was the dominant player, playing a straight down the outside of the lane while most of the field – including Malott – played a big hook, inside-angle power game. Among the field of finalists, three are high-rev two-handed players – Belmonte, Maldonado and Palermaa – and Daugherty gets his power with a “thumbless” release.
The finalists also include two players trying for their first PBA Tour title (Castillo and Maldonado), and two one-time winners (Daugherty and Archer).
“We’re so different, but we just go about our business, and enjoy bowling with each other,” Duke said. “I have so much respect for Wes. I wanted to do well just because of that.”
“What made it work for us is that Norm bowled his butt off and I kinda went along for the ride,” Malott, a nine-time PBA Tour titlist, said. “I know he hasn’t necessarily bowled great the past couple of years, but I have a lot of faith in him and he certainly showed why this week. To have a chance to defend our title is an honor.”
Duke, a 37-time PBA Tour champion, will head to Indianapolis as a finalist in the PBA Players Championship as well as the doubles event. He will have two chances to break his tie for third place on the PBA all-time titles list with fellow hall of famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo. Duke and Weber trail all-time titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr. (47) and the late Earl Anthony (43).
Neither Duke nor Malott is concerned about the two-week interval between Friday’s match play and the Feb. 15 finals, which will be contested at Woodland Bowl at 7 p.m. ET, following the live ESPN finals of the 50th anniversary Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions at 1 p.m. ET.
“Milwaukee has been good to me. I’ve made a lot of TV shows here, but I haven’t won that many times,” Duke said. “It would be nice to stay here, but if we have to go somewhere for the finals, I’d go to Indy. I’ve closed the deal a few times down there.”
Malott felt the same way.
“With all of the bowling we’re going to be doing the next couple of weeks, having a little time before the finals is a good thing,” Malott said, “and I think I’ll be able to strike a little more in Indy.”
The Roth/Holman PBA Doubles Championship will air on ESPN on March 1 at 1 p.m. ET.
PBA Tour players headed north to Green Bay where they will compete in the United States Bowling Congress Masters Tuesday through Sunday, Feb. 8. The Masters finals will air live on ESPN at 3 p.m. ET. All qualifying and match play rounds of the Masters will be covered live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel (visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link for subscription information).
The 50th anniversary Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions follows, Feb. 11-15, at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. The PBA Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will kick off the week on Feb. 10. All qualifying and match play rounds of the Tournament of Champions also will be covered live on Xtra Frame.
MARK ROTH/MARSHALL HOLMAN PBA DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIP
AMF Bowlero, Wauwatosa, Wis., Jan. 30
FINAL MATCH PLAY STANDINGS (after 48 combined games, includes combined individual and team match play records and bonus pins)
1, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla./Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 23-13, 11,835.
2, Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas/Tom Daugherty, Tampa, Fla., 24-12, 11,492.
3, Jason Belmonte, Australia/Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 16-20, 11,481.
4, DJ Archer, Friendswood, Texas/Shawn Maldonado, Houston, Texas, 21-15, 11,431.
5, Dom Barrett, England/Osku Palermaa, Finland, 21-14-1, 11,396.
6, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas/Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 21-15, 11,372, $6,000.
7, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind./Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 17-19, 11,334, $5,000.
8, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla./Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 12-24, 11,319, $4,500.
9, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C./Jake Peters, Henderson, Nev., 19-17, 11,261, $4,000.
10, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y./Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 13-23, 11,228, $3,500.
11, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y./Brian Himmler, Cincinnati, 15-20-1, 11,157, $3,000.
12, Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y./Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla., 13-23, 11,007, $2,500.