Bowling News USA - March 30, 2012 The Schlemer Report - Roth/Holman Doubles
The Mark Roth/Marshall Holman Doubles was truly an outstanding event. The highlight of the entire event was having both Mark and Marshall in attendance. As Norm mentioned in his post-win interview, those two were two of the greatest competitors our sport has ever seen. So it was only fitting that they finally hold a doubles event in honor of one of the greatest doubles teams in the history of bowling.
I have been around a long time on the PBA tour and this was the first time that the National Tour held a doubles event where the bowlers themselves got to pick their partners. I think that alone was one of the entertaining parts of the event. I mean the bowling was great, but the time and effort each player put into selecting their partner was definitely fun to be a part of. Both Del Ballard and I discussed our thoughts of who would match better with whom and then of course we had to sit and chat with each player individually and get their thoughts. Of course from a company standpoint we wanted our guys to pick fellow staffers, but to be honest I did mention to each and every one of them that selecting the best partner to win a title with was ultimately the goal. And we would respect that. As it turned out, we didn’t have to worry about that since all of our guys picked partners they would be comfortable with. Wes Malott was the highest seeded staffer and he selected Norm Duke just on the simple fact that he knew that if Norm had a look from out, he would be tough to beat. Andres Gomez was the second staffer to pick and he decided on fellow international staffer Martin Larsen. The reason for this pick was because they have competed against each other around the globe and have a good sense of each other’s game. Pete Weber was the last staffer to pick and of course he had no problem choosing Jason Belmonte since he had a great look the entire WSOB and was definitely the best option late in the selection process.
After the roll off matches to make the TV show, it was apparent the Storm/Roto Grip Nation had another great chance to win since we had three of the five teams. In the first match, with Weber using the Frantic and Belmo using the Marvel Pearl, were ousted in sudden death. Weber threw some great shots late in the game to extend the match, but Belmo unfortunately did not toss it that well when he needed it, thus ending their run.
The next match included the last two remaining international players in the doubles field, Gomez and Larsen. The reason I mention this is up until this point the WSOB has been dominated by the international players, thus proving that bowling is highly competitive around the globe. By this point in the show after one game, four bowlers, and of course factoring TV lights, the lanes were definitely going through a transition. It took most of the practice time to figure out which lane they each liked. From that point we then had to find the right balls to match what they were seeing. When all was said and done, both felt the Hy-Road was their best option and away they went. Kind of, they mustered only a 173 combined score and thus were eliminated.
At that point only Duke/Malott remained, reducing the Vegas odds of another Storm/Roto victory. Fear not as the PBA Hall of Famer and King of Bowling took to the lanes to represent the Storm/Roto Nation. First they had to eliminate Team Ebonite to get a chance to battle Team Brunswick for the title. I have to be honest after the last game there was no way that Del or I envisioned a high scoring match. But that was exactly what happened. Duke found a little something from the gutter on the left lane using an Anarchy and Malott felt confident with a Frantic from deep inside on the right lane. Did we think they had 260 ball-reaction between them? Nope! We figured if they could get to 200 they had a good chance. Of course that was before the strikes started adding up. After the strike, spare, strike, spare start for Norm and Wes, I have to say honestly it wasn’t looking too good. That was until Team Ebonite opened in the seventh, thus opening the door. Last eight for 260 while one played the gutter and the other played fourth arrow. Pretty impressive to say the least since there wasn’t a 200 game up until that point on the show.
We figured the title match would be another shootout after what we witnessed. Both Norm and Wes liked what they had and figured that Team Brunswick would try to force them out of the zones they were playing. They may have tried, but with only a couple minutes before the start time, they realized started scrambling for ball reaction. They started with three open frames in the first four chances. By that point both Wes and Norm looked at each other and agreed to just play it smart and fill frames. There was definitely no threat of a comeback in sight since they had a 45 pin lead through five frames. Another victory for the Storm/Roto Grip Nation!