by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
Last Friday evening, while I was getting ready to leave the house for league bowling, I switched the TV to ESPN2 to check for new auto insurance commercials or ads for new ways to pour beer. Imagine my shock to find that between the commercials they were showing games 7 and 8 of the BPAA US Open match play. The annual event this year took place in the fittingly named city of North Brunswick, NJ. I believe they passed up Columbia, SC and next years Open will be held in Storm, Wisconsin, after they change the name from Madison.
As it is with the US Open in golf, the tournament directors go all out to establish scoring conditions that challenge the players of all skill levels. The difference in golf is that we get to watch Tiger play all 72 holes of their Open, but the bonus bowling TV coverage is at least a start. The flat oil 42 foot pattern from one board to one board challenged all competitors. One thing I have learned about challenging oil patterns is that there are 12-15 ways to play the shots. Then you have 6 or 8 different bowling balls in the bag and can vary the speed and hand position or release point. And, oh yeah, nothing works. During the Friday night TV show, I witnessed Norm Duke playing relatively straight, but somehow managed to leave a 4-9 and a 2-10 on the same lane in the same game. Tommy Jones and Jason BelMonte were out by the left gutter cap seeing how far they could air it out over the 4th arrow.
Ryan Shafer nudged out Bill O’Neill to make it to Sunday but was eliminated by Mika Koivuniemi in the opening match. Tommy Jones then mimicked Norm Duke with a 4-9 followed by a 2-8-10 in the semi final to set up a US Open rematch between Norm and Mika. Both players were still playing around the 10 board with decent accuracy, and Norm grabbed an early lead, only to give it back by missing the head pin and butchering the 1-2-4 spare. He then went on to throw 6 perfect shots, only to get bit by a stone 8 pin in the 8th frame. Mika had grabbed the lead by virtue of a string of strikes and Norm’s 8 pin, and needed only a mark in the 10th frame to secure his second Open title.
Mika made a good shot, left a 10 pin, and missed it. Duke wins! Sorry Mika, but man up! Professional sports has winners and losers. You just won the Tournament of Champions last month and pocketed the biggest payday in pro bowling history. There really is no reason to roll around on the approach with your head in your hands and slump off the lanes and into your chair and feel sorry for yourself. Norm was gracious in the victory. Expressed some solace for Mika, blamed himself for the open frame, and said nothing about the 8 pin which, if he would have and should have carried it, the 10th frame would not have been the turning point.
So congratulations to Norm Duke. As for Mika, maybe go to Amazon.com and get a copy of the book “We Can’t All Be Winners” by Brad Childress, Kurt Rambis, Tubby Smith, and Ron Gardenhire.