Duke and Barnes in running for Player of the Year by making U.S. Open finals


    2008-09 PBA Tour #20

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

    2008NormDuke.jpg Defending champion Norm Duke (pictured left) of Clermont, Fla., earned the top qualifier position Saturday for the stepladder finals of the 66th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open, enabling him to control his destiny for his third Player of the Year honor.

    Considered one of the most demanding events in bowling - both mentally and physically - Duke had an overall tournament match play record of 15-8-1 and a 215 average in the fourth major and final event of season.

    Duke, who was Player of the Year in 1994 and 2000, finished ahead of No. 2 qualifier, five-time Tour titlist Mike Scroggins of Amarillo, Texas, who had a 19-5 match play record and averaged 210 for the tournament.

    200809PBA20ChrisBarnes.jpgWith an opportunity to defend his 2007-08 Player of the Year honor is 12-time Tour titlist and 2005 U.S. Open Champion Chris Barnes (right) who qualified third for the finals.

    Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, who led the Player of the Year race going into the U.S. Open, will have to watch from the sidelines as Duke and Barnes try to capture the Player of the Year title with a victory. Sunday's live ESPN-televised championship round gets underway at 1 p.m. Eastern.

    "Player of the Year is great but I'm here to win the U.S. Open," said Duke who was Player of the Year in 1994 and 2000. "There's some work still to be done - you really can't think of anything before or after, you have to stay in the moment.

    "The way I look at it I have about a 50-50 chance to win and who knows the way this tournament goes a 125 game might do it."

    Duke, a 32-time Tour titlist with six majors, will try to become the first bowler to win back-to-back U.S. Opens since Dave Husted accomplished the feat in 1995-96. The 45-year-old Duke is the only bowler to win three consecutive majors and is just one of two bowlers to win professional bowling's Grand Slam (Mike Aulby is the other) and one of just five players to win the Triple Crown.

    Barnes, of Double Oak, Texas, had made five television appearances this season before winning back-to-back titles in March to get back into the Player of the Year race.

    "I would never have believed I'd be in this position four weeks ago," Barnes said. "I've been wound up all week and I really believed I had a legitimate shot at winning this week. But this is the U.S. Open so anything can happen."

    Opening up the stepladder finals will be No. 4 qualifier Amleto Monacelli of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, against No. 5 qualifier, former exempt Tour player Richard Wolfe of Vienna, Va. Monacelli, a PBA Hall of Famer and 19-time Tour titlist, defeated Barnes 278-208 to advance to the finals in Saturday's final position round match. Monacelli hasn't been a regular on Tour since 2006 and is making his first Tour telecast since the 2006 Tournament of Champions. His last title came in 2005. Wolfe is trying for his first career PBA Tour title.

    The U.S. Open winner will take home $100,000 and a three-year Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour exemption.


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    66th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open - Round 7 Match Play

    The top 5 players advance to the stepladder finals.