The Anthony PBA Players Championship finals aired Sunday on ESPN.
Back-to-back unconverted 4-9 and 4-6-7 splits in the fifth and sixth frames put Rash in a 35-pin hole. He rebounded with a string of three strikes, but Norton continued to fill frames to maintain the lead. When Rash failed to strike in the 10th, Norton only needed seven pins in his 10th frame and the California left-hander threw three strikes to seal the victory.
“I knew Earl Anthony when I was a kid. My mother (women’s professional hall of famer Virginia Norton) bowled on tour at about the same time, so I got to know him,” Norton said. “To win the tournament named in his honor is really special.
“I thought it was a lot to get one title in a year, let alone two,” Norton added. “I don’t even have the words. I knew I was throwing the ball well. I knew I was in a good place mentally. Last year I knew what it took to win, but this year, I just decided I’m out here because I love to bowl and compete, and for no other reason.”
Norton was frustrated that he was unable to put the match away early, given opportunities by Rash, but he said he has new-found confidence that he can ultimately get the job done.
“Every time (Rash) gave me an opening, I couldn’t close the door,” he said, “but I have a little more determination now than I’ve had in the past. Every time I’m on that big stage, I know what I need to do.”
Norton, a practicing attorney when he isn’t bowling on Tour, knows it’s very early to start thinking about the PBA Player of the Year race, but moving into a tie with Mika Koivuniemi as the only two-time winners so far in 2012-13 at least puts him in the conversations.
“If I win POY that’s great,” he said. “That’s everyone’s goal, but I can only do what I can do and the rest isn’t up to me.”
PBA competition resumes with the Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions and PBA League Elias Cup finals Wednesday-Sunday at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. The two-hour, five-player Tournament of Champions stepladder finals will air live on ESPN next Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET.