California attorney Scott Norton averaged Sunday to take the early first round lead in the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA)’s Viper Championship, the second of five GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IV events being conducted at South Point Bowling Center, Las Vegas, NV.
Norton, a 30-year-old left-hander who won his only PBA Tour title in the 2010 Chameleon Championship, rolled games of 222, 252, 228, 226, 238, 279, 229 and 269 for an eight-game total of 1,943 pins and a 29–pin edge over rookie Craig Nidiffer of Trenton, MI, among the early finishers in the Viper qualifying round. The other half of the 240-player field will bowl its Viper qualifying round later Sunday.
After the full field has bowled the eight-game round, the top 16 players will return Sunday night for a six-game semifinal round to determine the top four players who will bowl for the Viper Championship title on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 4 p.m. PT in a special arena setting inside South Point’s Exhibition Hall A.
Norton, the 2010-11 PBA Rookie of the Year, said improved focus was the key to Sunday’s performance after finishing 105th in Saturday’s Alka Seltzer Plus Cold Cheetah Championship qualifying round.
“Yesterday I had a little trouble on one side of the center, and by the time I figured it out, it was too late,” he said. “So I tried to improve my focus level today and it was much higher. It seems like sometimes when it’s a little tougher on the left side of the lane, I have the magic ball roll that works. That doesn’t always happen, but sometimes, and today it worked.”
The Costa Mesa, CA, resident also said he returned to PBA Tour competition this season with a new attitude.
“I took the summer off, except for bowling a mixed doubles league with my mother (hall of famer Virginia Norton). I kind of went back to my roots and asked myself why I do this in the first place,” he said. “The idea is to have fun and that’s sometimes that’s hard to remember out here.
“I moved into a new house, I’m getting settled into my life, and it’s just a new perspective. As passionate as I am about this game, and as much as I love to compete, at the end of the day I still have family and friends who love me.”
Rounding out the top five among the early finishers were Nidiffer in second place with 1,914 pins, Brad Angelo of Lockport, NY, in third with 1,909 pins, Chris Loschetter of Avon, Ohio, in fourth with a 1,907 total and Finnish native Mika Koivuniemi of Hartland, MI, in fifth with 1,880 pins.
Sunday’s B squad qualifying and Viper Championship semifinal round will be webcast live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel.