March 25, 1964
Mount Pleasant, Texas
|Occupation||Ten Pin Bowler|
Norm Duke (born March 25, 1964) is an American professional bowler currently on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour. He has bowled 60 (or 61) perfect 300 games in PBA competition (as of the 2013-14 season), including the 15th televised 300 game in PBA Tour history on January 5, 2003.
In 1983, less than a year after turning pro, Duke won a title in Cleveland, OH to become the youngest player ever to win a PBA Tour event (age 18 years, 345 days). On that day, Duke started from the #5 position and defeated four bowlers to take the championship, including a victory over the legendary Earl Anthony in Duke's first-ever televised match. Oddly, Duke would not win his second PBA title until 1991, but his career took off from there.
Norm completed perhaps his best season in 1994, winning five titles including a major at the Tournament of Champions, and also winning PBA Player of the Year honors. He was also the winner of the PBA Player of the Year award in 2000. Duke became a member of the USBC Hall of Fame in 2002, and was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in January 2009.
Duke currently owns 37 PBA Tour titles, including seven majors: one ABC Masters, one Tournament of Champions, two United States Opens, and three PBA World Championships. His 37th title on April 1, 2012 put him in sole possession of third-place on the PBA's all-time titles list, though Pete Weber tied him with his 37th title in 2013. Duke's career PBA Tour earnings eclipsed $3 million in the 2011-12 season, making him just the third PBA bowler (along with Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Pete Weber) to surpass the $3 million mark in career prize money. He has made multiple TV Finals appearances every season since 1990. He has won at least two titles in a season nine times, including a career-best five titles in 1994.
The diminutive Duke (he stands 1.65 meters, or 5-foot-5) is known for his exceptional versatility. He is generally thought of as a stroker, either throwing the ball relatively straight or playing a hook shot from the extreme outside of the lane. But he has also shown the ability (especially earlier in his career) to swing the ball out toward the gutter and bring it back like a cranker when necessary. This gives him the advantage of being able to score well on most of the PBA's multiple oil patterns.
The 2007-08 season started slowly for Duke, as he battled illness on top of a series of injuries through the first half. Standing 51st in points and with his Tour exemption in jeopardy, he put together a furious finish by winning two majors in the final five weeks of the season. On February 24, 2008, he won his second career PBA World Championship to lock up a 2008-09 exemption. Then on March 30, he won the U.S. Open and joined Mike Aulby and Billy Hardwick as the only bowlers to ever complete a PBA career "grand slam" (U.S. Open, PBA World Championship, Tournament of Champions and ABC/USBC Masters). He is also one of only six bowlers to complete the PBA career Triple Crown (U.S. Open, Tournament of Champions and PBA World Championship).
Duke began the 2008-09 season by again winning the PBA World Championship. Continuing on his success from the previous season's sweep of the final two majors, he accomplished something never before done by any professional bowler: win three consecutive major tournaments. The streak ended when he failed to make the TV finals for the 2009 Tournament of Champions. On April 5, 2009, Duke narrowly missed an opportunity to become just the fifth bowler to repeat as champion at the U.S. Open. He qualified as the #1 seed, but was upset in the final by Mike Scroggins, 191-173. Duke eventually did win a second U.S. Open, On February 27, 2011.
Duke's 37th and most recent title on the PBA Tour came in 2012 at the Dick Weber PBA Playoffs. He joined the PBA50 Tour (formerly PBA Senior Tour) in 2014, but continues to compete in selected events on the standard PBA Tour.
In 2014, Norm won two titles, including the Senior U.S. Open, in his first season on the PBA50 Tour. For his efforts, he won both PBA50 Rookie of the Year and PBA50 Player of the Year honors.
Awards and recognition
- Two-time U.S. Open winner (2008, 2011) and three-time PBA World Championship winner (2000, 2007–08, 2008–09)
- PBA Player of the Year (1994, 2000)
- George Young High Average award (1991, 1994, 2005–06, 2006–07)
- Harry Smith PBA Points Leader award (2005–06)
- In his first year on tour (1983), Duke won the tour stop in Cleveland, OH at age 18 years, 345 days, which is still the record for the youngest person to ever capture a PBA title.
- During the 2006-07 Denny's PBA Tour season, Norm broke the tour's average record for a season, averaging 228.47, and this record has lasted seven years.
- Inducted into USBC Hall of Fame, 2002
- During qualifying for an April 1996 PBA tournament held in North Brunswick, N.J., Duke bowled three consecutive perfect games (900 total) in two squads.
- 60 (or 61) career perfect games
- The most recent bowler to win the "Grand Slam" (USBC Masters, PBA World Championship, PBA Tournament of Champions, and the US Open)
- 2008 ESPY for Best Bowler
- Ranked 7th on the PBA's 2008 list of "50 Greatest Players of the Last 50 Years"
- First bowler in history to win three Major titles in a row
- Inducted into PBA Hall of Fame on January 24, 2009
- PBA50 Player of the Year, 2014
In the media
- During the 2006-07 Denny's PBA Tour season, Duke served as a guest commentator on ESPN telecasts for events in which he failed to reach the TV Finals alongside Dave Ryan and Randy Pedersen. During events in which he made the TV Finals, Chris Barnes filled in as the third commentator.
- Duke is also famed for his "trick shots", which include being able to sling a ball wrapped in a towel and consistently throw a strike. In September, 2009 (broadcast October 25 on ESPN), Duke won the PBA's special Trick Shot Challenge.
- PBA profile
- Norm Duke profile
- Grossman, Hillard. "Duke gives fans on Merritt Island a glimpse of pro bowling royalty." Article in Florida Today on August 9, 2010. 
- "1994 Tournament of Champions". PBA.
- Schneider, Jerry. "Norm Duke Wins PBA Detroit Open Presented by Track for 35th Career Tour Title." Article at www.pba.com on March 11, 2012. 
- Norm Duke bio at www.pba.com, official site of the PBA Tour
- Schneider, Jerry (August 13, 2014). "W.R. Williams Wins PBA50 Treasure Island Resort & Casino Open; Norm Duke Earns PBA50 Player of the Year". pba.com. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
- Jason Belmonte set a new record 228.81 in 2013/14 — PBA Tour Scoring Records.
- "Kulick Wins PBA Women's World Championship, Sullins Takes Senior Title." Article at www.pba.com, October 25, 2009.