It was the kind of performance that has made Duke one of the PBA’s most popular players.
The final event in the GEICO PBA Summer Swing presented by Lucas Oil telecasts aired Tuesday on CBS Sports Network.
Duke, a 49-year-old Clermont, FL, resident, defeated four Summer Swing event champions in impressive style after earning his way into the King of the Swing field as the “wild card,” the highest point-getter without a title.
As the No. 5 qualifier for the stepladder finals, Duke began his climb up the stepladder by defeating Badger Open titlist Jake Peters of Decatur, IL, 220-190; Bear Open winner Jason Belmonte of Australia, 258-226, and Wolf Open champ Chris Loschetter of Avon, Ohio, 207-205. Those victories set up a championship re-match against Barnes, who had defeated Duke, 246-237, in the title match of the Milwaukee Open earlier in the Summer Swing.
Bowling on the same Badger lane condition Barnes had selected for the Milwaukee Open finals – a right the Double Oak, Texas, resident had earned as Summer Swing points leader - Duke successfully turned the tables on Barnes.
In the Milwaukee Open, Barnes won when he threw two strikes in the 10th, surviving to claim his 15th career title when Duke struck on his first shot in the 10th, but left a 10 pin on his second attempt.
In the King of the Swing finale, Barnes’ string of four strikes ended when the 9 pin stood on his second shot in the 10th frame. Duke, working on a double heading into his 10th frame, needed two more strikes to win, and he got what he needed.
“I realize it’s not a PBA Tour title, but it still feels good,” Duke said. “I’ll go home without a title, and that’s disappointing because I’m here to win titles, but I did win an event."
“I needed to spend some time on TV. I haven’t been on TV in a while, and when I got there and didn’t perform the way I wanted in the Wolf and Milwaukee Opens, it was just because we haven’t had any tournaments for a while,” Duke continued. “It takes a little time just to get comfortable. In the Wolf Open, I was scared and nervous, but today was a walk in the park.”
Duke was unhappy with a couple of shots he made in the previous events that, in his mind, probably cost him titles. But converting the 1-2-4-10 washout after making a bad shot in the 10th frame against Peters in the opening match of the King of the Swing finals was a key moment.
“When you bowl a lot of games on TV, there are going to be some shots you’re not real proud of, but I was about 90 percent happy with the shots I made today,” he said. “I had to make that washout against Jake Peters to win, and I did it.”
He also was happy to beat Barnes on the Badger pattern, a lane condition he wouldn’t have picked if he had the choice.
“I’d have picked the Wolf pattern,” Duke said. “I’ll bowl all day on the Wolf against those high-rev guys, but my job is to not have a favorite pattern. When you have a favorite, you also have a least-favorite pattern and that’s a problem; it’s conceding you have a weakness and I don’t like to say that out loud."
“In my mind, this was Barnes’ place,” he added. “Barnes led (the Summer Swing). He won the Milwaukee Open, which was the most important one, I believe. I’d love to have that shot back (10 pin in 10th frame of title match), but he’d love to have a couple of shots back as well. He earned it."
”When I get home and reflect on the Summer Swing, one of the things I’ll probably congratulate myself on was my ability to keep a strong focus on what I needed to do. I feel pretty good about that.”
To find CBS Sports Network in your home market, visit: http://www.cbssportsnetwork.com/channel-finder. CBSSN will air “encore” presentations of the Summer King of the Swing telecast on Tuesday, July 9, at 10 p.m.; Saturday, July 13, at 5 p.m., and Tuesday, July 16, at 7 p.m. – all times are Eastern.
GEICO PBA KING OF THE SWING presented by Lucas Oil
AMF Bowlero, Wauwatosa, Wis. (non-title special event)
Final Standings: 1, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., $10,000. 2, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, $6,000. 3, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, $4,000. 4, Jason Belmonte, Australia, $3,000. 5, Jake Peters, Decatur, Ill., $2,000.
Stepladder Results: Match One – Duke def. Peters, 220-190. Match Two – Duke def. Belmonte, 258-226. Semifinal Match – Duke def. Loschetter, 207-205. Championship – Duke def. Barnes, 222-213.