It didn't take Norm Duke long to prove the hype on the PBA50 Tour. Coming in as a rookie, expectations were understandably high for the Hall of Famer, and now two events in, he has a runner-up finish and a title.
Duke qualified third in the PBA50 Sun Bowl in The Villages and had to win three matches in the stepladder finals (all against Hall of Famers) to claim the title. First, Duke dispatched Parker Bohn III (who defeated Walter Ray Williams, Jr. in the opening match). Then, Duke eliminated Pete Weber before moving into the finals with tournament leader Tom Baker.
Two events into the PBA50 season, Norm Duke has to be the frontrunner for both the PBA50 Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year awards. Yes, it's early, but if Duke keeps performing like this, he'll take all the hardware.
The 2014 PBA50 season got underway last week in New Port Richey, Florida, with PBA Hall of Famer Amleto Monacelli defeating PBA50 rookie Norm Duke in the title match.
Monacelli led qualifying in almost every PBA50 tournament last season, but was only able to get one title out of it. Now one tournament into the season, he already has one title.
Led by inaugural Mark Roth PBA League MVP Chris Barnes, the Silver Lake Atom Splitters triumphed over cross-town rivals L.A. X to win the Elias Cup.
Jason Belmonte of L.A. X rolled a 279 in the singles match against Barnes to give L.A. X the early lead, but the Atom Splitters quickly tied the match at one point apiece in the doubles match. L.A. again took the lead with a victory in trios, but Silver Lake ultimately emerged victorious with a 225-203 win in the Baker team match.
Tensions in California will be running high tomorrow as the bitter rivalry between the Silver Lake Atom Splitters and L.A. X pits neighbor against neighbor in the Los Angeles area. The Elias Cup Finals will air at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The winning team will hoist the Elias Cup, closing out the 2014 PBA League season. There is no word yet on a potential parade route for the victors.