ALLEN PARK, Mich. – PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke won the PBA Detroit Open presented by Track Sunday for his first win of the 2011-12 season and the 35th of his career.
Duke, of Clermont, Fla., defeated reigning PBA Player of the Year and No. 1 seed Finland native Mika Koivuniemi, 266-217, in the championship match at Thunderbowl Lanes to win the $10,000 first prize pushing his career earnings over the $3 million mark. Koivuniemi, who now makes his home in Hartland, Mich. was trying for his 10th career title.
Duke joins fellow Hall of Famers Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Pete Weber as the only players to earn more than $3 million and his 35 wins also moved him into fourth on the all-time career list for titles won.
Williams is PBA’s all-time career titles leader with 47 followed by Earl Anthony with 43 and Weber with 36. Williams also holds the all-time career earnings mark with $4.35 million followed by Weber with $3.52 million.
“At this point in my career I feel just blessed to be able to compete,” said the 47-year-old Duke. “It’s just so hard to win out here that at this point in my career I’m just blessed — that’s all I can say. I’m jealous of what the young guys can do so it makes it all the more special.”
Duke, the No. 2 seed, soundly defeated 2009 PBA World Championship winner Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich., in the semifinal match, 288-178, to advance to the championship match. Duke attributed his success to reducing the amount of practice he took before each match.
“Usually, everyone wants as much practice as they can get but for me that’s not always the case,” Duke said. “Sometimes you need the practice but other times you have to know when to get out of there.
“The guys with the big rev rates will just burn up the lane and I didn’t want to add to that. Fortunately, I was able to play outside on the lane where I like to play. I had to make a one-board adjustment in the first game but even in the championship match I had to make a three and a half board adjustment.”
In the opening stepladder match, Smallwood, who was trying for his second career title, defeated three-time Tour titlist Bill O’Neill of Southampton, Pa., 245-214, to advance to the semifinal against Duke.
The Detroit Open was the third PBA Tour event streamed live exclusively on pba.com’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel. The next stop for the PBA Tour will be the Dick Weber Playoffs from Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis March 30-April 1 which will also be streamed live on Xtra Frame.