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Anytime you broadcast five hours of bowling, there’s bound to be something unusual happen. But Sunday’s PBA Tour Finals stepladders and championship offered up plenty of strange moments.
Here’s a look at a few of them:
1. Duke loses his tape and then the match
Norm Duke is notorious for fidgeting with his thumbhole until it feels absolutely perfect. He’s done it forever.
So when his tape somehow flew out of his thumbhole as it hit the pocket in the final frame against Sean Rash, you knew he was in trouble. It was a truly bizarre moment and it seemed to ultimately cost Duke the match.
Needing a double and nine pins to win the opening match of the day against Rash, Duke tossed what looked like a perfect strike.
When the ball came back, however, Duke noticed his tape – made up of eight pieces plus cork – was missing.
A close-up replay of the ball going through the pins showed the tape coming out of the thumbhole upon impact on the pins.
Instead of taking the time to re-tape and get his thumb perfect, Duke instead pulled another interchangeable thumb out of other ball and tossed his next shot.
Remember, he had to have another strike for a shot to win. Instead, he dropped the ball, went high and left the 6-10 to lose.
“That piece of tape is now in the back of the machine – it’s gone,” Duke said later in the broadcast. “The ball comes back and the thumb is fine but the tape is not there. I use about eight pieces of tape and a cork – all of it fell out. It’s alright. It’s happened before and it will probably happen again.”
2. Simonsen gets creative on splits
Anthony Simonsen decided he had nothing to lose when shooting splits during the PBA Tour Finals show on Sunday.
In the second frame of Game 1 of his group stepladder final against Jakob Butturff, Simonsen came up light and left the 2-8-10 split.
For a righthander, it’s a split that is very rarely made. But Simonsen isn’t just any righthander. The two-hander is known for throwing a potent backup ball and that’s exactly what he did.
Very quickly, without spending much time to think about it, Simonsen grabbed his ball, tossed it hooking from the left and perfectly converted the split.
He wasn’t done with the creativity yet although his next attempt was not as successful.
In the third frame of Game 2 against Butturff, Simonsen left a pocket 7-10 split. Once again, he very quickly picked up his ball and did something exceptionally strange.
Simonsen not only threw it one-handed at the split but put his thumb in his weight hole. He didn’t make the split but it did make the ball go more end over end.
“I just keep seeing things I’ve never seen in my life,” a shocked Duke said right after.
3. O’Neill flushes one down the toilet
In a tight match in the second group stepladder, Bill O’Neill made an incredible mistake against Kris Prather that ultimately may have cost him the match.
Trailing by 15 pins but working on a strike, O’Neill had a shot to cut his deficit to just five pins with a strike.
Instead, as soon as he released the ball he yelled “Oh, Jesus” as the ball floated down the lane and plopped into the gutter.
“That is a rarity on the PBA Tour,” CBS Sports Network play-by-play announcer Dave Ryan said right after.
So, did O’Neill make the spare, which became incredibly important? Nope, he yanked the ball high and left he 3-6-10.
Frustratingly for O’Neill he went on to lose the match by just 10 pins, 221-211.