It’s never easy to climb the ladder all the way to the title in a stepladder format. It’s especially not easy when the people at the top of that ladder are legends. To win the Chameleon Open, Scott Norton first had to defeat Fawaz Abdulla, the first bowler from the Middle East to ever make it to a PBA televised final. Then, he had to take on who many consider the greatest bowler of all time, Walter Ray Williams, Jr. After that, he had to vanquish one of the best bowlers on Tour, particularly during this World Series of Bowling, Jason Belmonte.
This victory, Norton’s second PBA Tour title, was hard-earned and well deserved.
2012 Chameleon Open Finalists
- Jason Belmonte, Australia
- Walter Ray Williams, Jr., United States
- Scott Norton, United States
- Fawaz Abdulla, Bahrain
Belmonte, the top seed and Player of the Year runner-up, was also the defending Chameleon Champion, needing to win only one match to claim back-to-back titles. Williams was returning to a familiar spot for him—the TV finals. Last season was his first in 26 years to not make it to the television show, and he was looking to return in style with a victory here.
Adbulla, making history for Bahrain, rolled nothing lower than a 234 in the round of 16 to move up seven spots and claim the fourth seed for the finals. Norton, the 2011 PBA Rookie of the Year, was looking for a comeback of his own after failing to grab any titles last season. He didn’t want to stay on the list of one-time titlists—and he didn’t.
Stepladder Match 1: Scott Norton vs. Fawaz Abdulla
Although he wasn’t complaining, Abdulla was battling gout during this match. In fact, just three days after qualifying for the finals, he was in the hospital. Fortunately, he was feeling good enough to give it a try, although he was definitely not at full capacity.
Early, it looked like Abdulla was going to have to gut it out for more than one match. Both Abdulla and Norton opened with strikes followed by spares. In the third frame, Norton left a 10 pin and missed his spare attempt, while Abdulla threw two strikes in a row to put the pressure on Norton.
Apparently, that woke Norton up, as he then struck on six of his next seven shots. While Abdulla didn’t fall apart by any means, his inability to put strikes together meant Norton jumped right past him and into the next match.
Final scores: Norton 225, Abdulla 194
Stepladder Match 2: Walter Ray Williams, Jr. vs. Scott Norton
Anyone who’s seen Williams bowl on TV knows he can be completely unstoppable. When he finds his way to the pocket, he strikes, and the only way to keep up with him is to do the same, which is not easy.
Williams opened the game with a strike, followed by a big-four split from Norton. It looked like one of those classic Williams matches in which one bad frame by an opponent turns into an automatic win for Williams. Then, Williams threw six consecutive nine counts before finally striking again in the eighth.
While that was going on, Norton was throwing strikes. By the time Williams got that strike in the eighth, Norton had already built a lead of more than 20 pins. Not satisfied, Norton closed the game with a hambone, shutting Williams out before Williams was able to bowl in the 10th.
Final scores: Norton 236, Williams 195
Stepladder Championship Match: Jason Belmonte vs. Scott Norton
Belmonte was the top seed, the defending champion, the runner-up for Player of the Year and one of the most consistent performers throughout the World Series of Bowling. Norton was hot, having bowled two games and just taken out the all-time leader in PBA Tour titles. The title match would be tough to call.
Norton, just as he did in the first two matches, found himself in a hole early. Belmonte opened with a turkey and had a 20-pin lead on Norton as late as the fifth frame. In the sixth, Belmonte left a baby split and failed to convert, opening the door for Norton to tie the game with a double, which he did.
Belmonte immediately shot back with another turkey through the ninth, and Norton closed out his game the same way he finished against Williams—four strikes in a row.
With Norton posting a 227 and Belmonte sitting on a 206 and a strike in the ninth, Belmonte needed the first strike to have a chance. Instead, the 10 pin was left standing. The best Belmonte could do at that point was 226, and Norton immediately became overwhelmed with the joy of victory.
Final scores: Norton 227, Belmonte 223
- Scott Norton, $20,000
- Jason Belmonte, $10,000
- Walter Ray Williams, Jr., $7,000
- Fawaz Abdulla, $5,000