Duke Rules The First Night At King Of The Lanes

2020 PBA King of the Lanes Norm Duke Night 1

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Monday night’s PBA King of the Lanes show turned out to be a masterclass in how to and how not to break down the lanes on a very scorable lane condition.

Norm Duke ruled the day, topping reigning king Wes Malott and then challenger Anthony Simonsen to sit on the throne heading into the second night. And the first hour of Monday’s show was vastly different than the second hour at Bowlero Jupiter in Florida.

In a high-scoring opening hour, Duke took down Walter Ray Williams Jr., 267-211, for the right to take on Malott.

Duke and Williams broke the lanes down perfectly, setting up a very scorable environment and Williams got off to a hot start with the front four. But then he pulled the ball high in the fifth frame and left the 6-7-10 split for an open. He was unable to keep up after that miss, however, as Duke strung together nine strikes in a row.

Duke then dethroned Malott, 248-219, in a match that Malott actually led after seven frames. Disaster struck for Malott in the eighth frame, however, when he left the Greek Church for an open. A nine pin in the ninth frame all but ended his night.

After the first two matches, the lanes were reoiled for the next set of contenders and the outcome could not have been more different.

EJ Tackett and Anthony Simonsen started too deep and caused the lanes to break down very unfavorably. The result was a relatively low-scoring match.

Trailing by 19 pins after four frames, Simonsen resorted to using a backup ball the rest of the game and pulled away for a 217-193 victory. Much like over the weekend at the PBA Tour Finals, Tackett never looked comfortable as he only struck once in the first six frames.

"I think me and EJ showed why when league bowlers get upset when their teammates start at 20 or 25," Simonsen told Randy Pedersen during the show. "We just didn't really develop anything to the right side of the lane. So the fronts are kind gross and there's no hold down the lane."

With the pattern now a mess, Duke came on to defend his crown and it didn’t take long before he decided to take the pattern out of play. Duke decided in the third frame to throw the ball straight and it worked well as he defeated Simonsen 198-185.

Simonsen started the game throwing from the right side, switch to a backup ball and eventually tried throwing urethane straighter.

In the end, Simonsen gave himself a shot to win but he was unable to get the necessary double in the 10th frame, leaving a high four pin on his first shot.

The three-night King of the Lanes event will continue Tuesday live on FS1 (United States) and FloBowling (international) with Duke set to defend his crown.

The first contenders match Tuesday will feature Bill O’Neill vs. Sean Rash, while the second match will have Jakob Butturff against Clara Guerrero. The show begins at 7 p.m. Eastern.

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