Norm Duke struggles but holds on to lead 66th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open


    2008-09 PBA Tour #20

    Brunswick Zone Carolier in North Brunswick, NJ, United States (March 29 - April 5, 2009)

    2008PBA17NormDuke2.jpgProfessional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Norm Duke (pictured left) retained his position as qualifying leader in the 66th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open for the second consecutive day but found the going a lot tougher Thursday at Brunswick Zone Carolier.

    2008PBA18ChrisBarnes.jpgDuke has a 3,997 18-game pinfall (overall 222.0 average) to hold a 48-pin lead over reigning PBA Player of the Year Chris Barnes (right). In Thursday's third-round six-game qualifying block Duke struggled, rolling a 146 in the second game and averaging 195.1.

    The original field of 415 professional and amateur bowlers has now been cut to the top 103 who will bowl an additional nine-game qualifying round Friday morning to determine the 24 players who advance to round-robin match play Friday evening. The top five players after match play will advance to the live, two-hour ESPN-televised stepladder finals on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern.

    "It's going to catch up with you sooner or later in the U.S. Open and it happens to everyone," Duke said of his sub-par performance Thursday. "It was just one of those days where I felt even some of my best shots turned into splits. I think I had at least two splits in every game.

    "I'm disappointed but I haven't lost the desire and that's very important. You just have to keep digging."

    Duke, with three titles this season and Barnes with two wins, are in the running for Player of the Year honors but must win to have a shot at that title.

    Duke, a 32-time PBA Tour titlist who has won professional bowling's Grand Slam and Triple Crown, is trying to become the first bowler to defend a U.S. Open title since Dave Husted accomplished the feat in 1995 and 1996.

    200809PBA02WesMalott.jpgCurrently in 41st with a 3,685 pinfall (204.7 average), Wes Malott (left), who also won three titles this season and has the inside track for Player of the Year, made the tournament's first cut but has some work to do to make the top 24 for match play.

    "Yesterday I gave a lot of pins away because I wasn't feeling 100 percent and that affected my ability to focus," said Malott, who has six career PBA Tour titles. "I felt better today and was able to rebound.

    "Tomorrow's another day and with a nine-game qualifying block to go there's a lot of bowling left to make it to the top 24."

    The U.S. Open winner will earn a $100,000 first prize, a three-year PBA Tour exemption and Grand Slam points which will impact players trying to qualify for the GEICO PBA Team Shootout hosted by Six Flags in June.

    66th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open - Round 3 Qualifying

    The top 103 players advanced. Dixon and Smallwood advanced in a one-game roll-off.