JONESBORO, Ark. (March 3, 2019) – PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke, three weeks shy of his 55th birthday, defeated 22-year-old Anthony Simonsen of Little Elm, Texas, 212-164, to win the Go Bowling! PBA Jonesboro Open Sunday at Hijinx Family Entertainment Center.
With an error-free game including one string of three strikes against the split-prone Simonsen, Duke became the third player in PBA history to win 40 PBA Tour titles, joining Walter Ray Williams Jr. (47) and Earl Anthony (43). He also became the oldest player to win consecutive PBA Tour titles, and the first to win two titles during the 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour season following his victory in the Go Bowling! PBA Indianapolis Open a week earlier.
This win was classic Norm Duke, an accomplished veteran who uses less to create more against an emerging legion of strong, young, high-revolution power players.
“I don’t really care if I bowl 280 or 180 if it’s more than the other guy has,” Duke said. “You just give it all you’ve got. I was so scared down there, it was hard to make shots. It gets that way when you’re so close to winning.”
Just as he has done throughout his career, Duke accomplished his mission Sunday by eliminating errors and taking advantage of what the scoring environment allows, rather than trying to overpower the lanes and pins.
“You never know what’s good enough until it’s over, but I love the fact that I didn’t have any open frames,” he added. “Spares win titles.”
Simonsen, a 22-year-old two-handed player, advanced to the title match against Duke – who had been bowling on Tour for 25 years by the year Simonsen was born – with a 214-199 victory over 26-year-old EJ Tackett of Bluffton, Ind. The semifinal match was a battle between two of the PBA’s most powerful high-revolution players. Simonsen started the match with four strikes to establish a solid lead that held up because Tackett was unable to throw consecutive strikes on the dual lane conditions until the 10th frame.
In the final match, however, Simonsen completely lost the right lane, leaving unmakeable splits on his first three attempts to give Duke the room he needed to open a big lead.
“Uncomfortable is the word for it,” the frustrated Simonsen said after whiffing the headpin on his first ball in the 7th frame.
In the opening match, Kris Prather of Plainfield, Ill., started with four strikes, converted a 10 pin and threw three more strikes to build a lead Japanese star Shota Kawazoe couldn’t overcome despite a late string of four strikes. Kawazoe, a 17-time Japan PBA title winner, didn’t miss the pocket but three single-pin spares kept him from closing the gap and Prather won, 246-236.
In the second match, Simonsen jumped into an early 44-pin lead by starting the match with five strikes while Prather lost the pocket after a first-frame strike. Simonsen hit a speed bump when he left the 4-9 split in the 8th frame and failed to convert, but he then threw four more strikes to eliminate Prather, 247-203.
Sunday’s live FS1 finals were contested on the same dual lane conditioning environment that was used throughout the tournament, with the 45-foot Wolf oiling pattern applied to the left lane and the 36-foot Viper pattern applied to the right lane.
Next up on the 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour schedule is the 10th anniversary PBA World Series of Bowling at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich., March 11-21. WSOB X will award four PBA Tour titles, including the PBA World Championship, the year’s second major, and will include five consecutive nights of prime-time telecasts on FS1, March 18-22.
Leading into the World Series will be the World Bowling Tour Men’s and Women’s Finals, presented by the PBA, on FS1 next Sunday at 10 p.m. EST.
GO BOWLING! PBA JONESBORO OPEN
Hijinx Family Entertainment Center, Jonesboro, Ark., Sunday
1, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., $25,000.
2, Anthony Simonsen, Little Elm, Texas, $13,000.
3, EJ Tackett, Bluffton, Ind., $9,000.
4, Kris Prather, Plainfield, Ill., $7,000.
5, Shota Kawazoe, Japan, $6,000.
Match One – Prather def. Kawazoe, 246-236.
Match Two – Simonsen def. Prather, 247-203.
Semifinal Match – Simonsen def. Tackett, 214-199.
Championship – Duke def. Simonsen, 212-164.