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Bowling News USA - February 26, 2011 Duke One Win Away from U.S Open Title...Ryan Roars back...

Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer and Storm staffer Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla., will bowl for his 34th career title and seventh major championship Sunday as the top qualifier in the 68th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open at Brunswick Zone-Carolier.

Duke, 46, battled Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., through 16 games of match play Saturday before winning the final match to finish with a 13-10-1 match play record and 50-game total of 11,098 pins, including match play bonus pins, locking up the top berth in Sunday’s ESPN finals by 71 pins. Jones earned the second spot in the finals with 11,027 pins.

Mika Koivuniemi of Hartland, Mich., made PBA history by advancing to the nationally-televised finals in all four major championships during the 2010-11 season. Koivuniemi finished sixth in the eight-man stepladder field in the PBA World Championship in January, won the PBA Tournament of Champions a week later and finished third in the Bayer United States Bowling Congress Masters in mid-February. The Finland native qualified third with 10,993.

Storm's Ryan Shafer of Horseheads, N.Y., earned the fourth spot in the stepladder finals with a 10,982 total and then advanced to Sunday’s championship round when he defeated defending champion and No. 5 qualifier Bill O’Neill of Southampton, Pa., 193-183, in Saturday’s night stepladder round. O’Neill jumped out to a 40-pin lead after five frames, but back-to-back open frames let Shafer back into the match. Shafer struck out in the 10th frame to force O’Neill to mark, but when O’Neill left a 4-6-7 split in the 10th frame, his hopes for back-to-back titles vanished.

Shafer used a Storm Marvel™ and Storm Virtual Gravity™ Nano on the show Staurday night.

Shafer, a four-time PBA Tour champion, will bowl Koivuniemi in Sunday’s first championship round match. Shafer is trying for his first major title. ESPN will air the finals live at 3 p.m. Eastern.

Duke, who needs one more victory to tie PBA legend Mark Roth for fourth place on the list of all-time PBA Tour title winners, said he left Florida six days ago with a specific goal in mind “and now it’s attainable.

I’m exhausted. I’m out of gas. My hand’s killing me. I’m in excellent shape, but I’m tired,” Duke said. “But it’s a new tournament now. Everything up to now is gone. Forget it. It’s all new tomorrow.

You always want to bowl one match. It’s a 50-50 chance to win the title if you only have to bowl one game. It’s 25 percent or worse if you aren’t. And you can’t win if you aren’t in the title match – and I’m in the title match.

“I worked harder today than I have ever worked. I had a little cushion this morning and I need every single pin. I think I bowled horrible today and I’m in the lead, so think about what the other guys are feeling? It was very, very difficult.

“The money means nothing,” Duke added. “I just want the trophy. Two years ago I had the lead and I lost. You don’t get over it. In 2000 I lost the U.S. Open title by a pin to Robert Smith, and that one still hurts. You don’t forget. I hate finishing second.”

Brunswick Zone-Carolier, North Brunswick, N.J., Saturday

FINAL MATCH PLAY STANDINGS (after 50 games, including match play bonus pins; top six advanced to stepladder finals):

1, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 13-10-1, 11,098.
2, Tommy Jones, Greenville, S.C., 11-13, 11,027.
3, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 15-9, 10,993.
4, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 15-9, 10,982.
5, Dan MacLelland, Saginaw, Mich., 15-9, 10,920.
6, Bill O'Neill, Southampton, Pa., 10-14, 10,849.
7, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 13-10-1, 10,844, $7,000.
8, Brian Valenta, Lockport, Ill., 16-8, 10,823, $6,000.
9, Steve Jaros, Yorkville, Ill., 11-12-1, 10,799, $5,500.
10, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 14-10, 10,783, $5,000.
11, Scott Norton, Costa Mesa, Calif., 13-10-1, 10,750, $4,500.

12, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 12-12, 10,739, $4,300.
13, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 10-12-2, 10,734, $4,100.
14, Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, Kan., 13-11, 10,668, $4,000.
15, a-Marcus Berndt, Sweden, 13-11, 10,658, $3,900.
16, a-Mark Clark, Naperville, Ill., 15-9, 10,572, $3,800.
17, John Furey, East Windsor, N.J., 11-13, 10,570, $3,800.
18, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 11-12-1, 10,565, $3,600.
19, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 11-13, 10,561, $3,500.
20, a-E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 7-16-1, 10,422, $3,400.
21, John Szczerbinski, North Tonawanda, N.Y., 8-15-1, 10,408, $3,300.
22, a-Fero Williams, Fairfield, Ohio, 9-15, 10,334, $3,200.
23, a-Matthew O'Grady, South Amboy, N.J., 9-15, 10,319, $3,100.
24, Mike Fagan, Patchogue, N.Y., 8-15-1, 10,298, $3,000.
a = amateur


Saturday, Feb. 26, 10 p.m. Eastern (televised live on ESPN2)
Match One – Bill O’Neill, Southampton, Pa., def. Dan MacLelland, Saginaw, Mich. ($10,000), 204-150.
Match Two – Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., def. O’Neill ($11,000), 193-183. (Shafer advances to Sunday’s Match Three).

Sunday, Feb. 27, 3 p.m. Eastern (televised live on ESPN)
Match Three – Winner of Match Two vs. No. 3 Koivuniemi (loser earns $13,000).
Semifinal Match – Winner of Match Three vs. No. 2 Jones (loser earns $20,000).
Championship – Winner of Semifinal Match vs. No. 1 Duke (winner earns $80,000, loser earns $40,000).


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February, 2011