Duke Does It Again, Wins Title No. 40

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In an era dominated by high rev rates and two-handed bowlers, Norm Duke is showing the old-school way of bowling is just as effective as ever.

Duke, a master of versatility and accuracy, used those skills Sunday to become just the third player in the history of the PBA Tour to win 40 career titles by winning the 2019 PBA Jonesboro Open.

In the championship match, Duke, 54, blew past 22-year-old two-hander Anthony Simonsen, 212-164, to win back-to-back titles on the PBA Tour for the first time in his career. The victory at Hijinx Family Entertainment in Jonesboro, Arkansas, also made Duke the first two-time winner of the season.

Results: PBA Jonesboro Open Stepladder Finals

“We don’t work this hard and travel this far unless we think we can win, I don’t care who it is against,” Duke told FOX sideline reporter Kimberly Pressler after the win. “But as you just said, ‘Did you think you were going to come out and win two in a row?’ I just bowled two majors, and I didn’t make either cut. So, no.”

Duke, the top seed, kept the ball in play throughout the title match as the players faced dual patterns for the second consecutive week. With the 48-foot Shark on the left lane and 36-foot Viper on the right lane, Duke bowled a clean game while Simonsen struggled.

Simonsen went high in five of the first six frames and was never really competitive in the match. By the fifth frame, Duke had already amassed a 46-pin lead and cruised to the victory.

Duke’s 40th career title puts him in the company of other 40-plus winners in history on the tour. Walter Ray Williams Jr. has the most all-time titles with 47, while Earl Anthony won 43 times.

In the semifinal, Simonsen took down second seed EJ Tackett, 214-199, in a match in which he never trailed.

Simonsen popped four strikes in a row to start the match and never looked back, staying clean the through nine frames to pick up the easy victory.

Tackett suffered from some tough carry in the match and never tossed a double. He did, however, convert two splits, making the 2-4-8-10 and the 3-4-6-7-10.

Simonsen started the second match of the stepladder finals with the front five and rolled to a 247-203 victory over Kris Prather.

After starting strong, Simonsen left a 5 pin in the sixth frame, struck in the sixth and left a 4-9 split in the eighth. By the time he got to the final frame, Simonsen just needed a spare and nine on the fill for the win and instead struck out.

Prather appeared to struggle with a bit of transition early in the match and only struck once in the first five frames, putting him in a deficit from which he would never recover.

In the opening match of the stepladder, Prather had little trouble in a 246-236 victory over Japan’s Shota Kawazoe.

Prather got out of the gates quickly with four strikes in a row to start the match before leaving a 10 pin and converting it. He then threw three more strikes and just needed a mark with minimal count in the final frame to lock up the victory. He advanced with a strike to start the 10th frame.

Kawazoe, meanwhile, was in the pocket throughout the match but single-pin leaves in the second, fourth and seventh frames kept him from keeping up with Prather.

The PBA Tour has the week off before action resumes with the PBA World Series of Bowling X on March 12.

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