Here’s An Interesting Statistic… Winning The U.S. Open – By One Pin! Here’s An Interesting Statistic…

by Dave Williams

While searching and Elon Musk’s entries for the latest installment of “Twitter Files,” I couldn’t find any new entries from the likes of Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, Alex Berenson and others, so I decided to search for my other favorite topic — bowling news, within the content provided by members of the Twitter universe.

Typing in ‘bowling news’ brought me to an interesting page known as “The Bowling News Network,” presented by The very first tweet captured my attention with the following title: Five Times the U.S. Open Was Won By One Pin. This should be interesting, I thought to myself, as I couldn’t even think of one title match that was decided by one pin.

Surprisingly, all five of the title matches decided by just one pin at the U.S. Open have been contested since the year 2000! (So much for my photographic memory). And here I was, all set to journey back in time to the days of the BPAA All Star Tournament (forerunner to the U.S. Open), to look at all those historical matches.

Robert Smith (2011)

The first of the historic one pin matches was won by Robert Smith of Simi Valley, Calif., over Norm Duke, originally from Ft. Worth, Texas, but now living in Clermont, Florida. Suddenly my memory came back to me as I remembered Smith striking out in the tenth frame for a final score of 202, forcing Duke to get the first strike in the tenth. Duke left an 8 pin, spared and struck on the fill ball for a 201.

This would be the first of 7 PBA titles for Smith in a nine year span (2000-2008), in addition to one international title in the Philippines in 2010. While living in many different parts of the world, including Hawaii and Hong Kong, the 49 year old now resides in Oxnard, Calif., according to the official PBA website.

Not enough can be said about Norm Duke, who is without question one of the top ten bowlers of all time, as we have documented many times. With 40 national PBA titles, and one of only three bowlers to complete the Grand Slam of bowling (USBC Masters, PBA Tournament of Champions, U.S. Open and PBA World Championships), he remains a fan favorite wherever he goes with the familiar chant, ‘Duke, Duke, Duke.’ (The others to complete the Grand Slam of bowling are Mike Aulby and Jason Belmonte).

The next one pin title match at the U.S. Open came at the 2005 event, when Chris Barnes of Denton, Texas, narrowly missed leaving the 4-10 split in the tenth frame, when the 10 pin toppled at the last second. Barnes converted the 4 pin and struck on the fill ball for a 213-212 victory over Patrick Allen of Elmwood Park, New Jersey. Allen now runs the pro shop at the beautiful Parkway Lanes that’s located in Elmwood Park, while Barnes still competes regularly on both the national and senior PBA circuits.

Michael Fagan (2009)

Single pin title match number 3 came in 2012. How could I ever forget this one? I certainly did not forget Pete Weber’s famous announcement when he defeated Michael Fagan of Westbury, N.Y., by a score of 215-214: “Who do you think you are? I am!” Fagan put a halt to his pro bowling career in 2017. He is now the Director of Business Development for a company that owns bowling centers in Minnesota.

Weber, a St. Louis native that we have reported on many times, is in the same rarified air as Norm Duke, with a career that has only been topped by the immortal Walter Ray Williams Jr., in titles and money earnings. He has made the U.S. Open and their storied difficult lane condition his personal priority, with a record 5 victories. His famous father, Dick Weber, and the legendary Don Carter are tied for second, each with 4 victories when the tournament was known as the BPAA All Star.

Jakob Butturff (right) with former Miss USA Kimberly Pressler (2018)

Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Arizona, has played a part in the last two one-pin matches, with defeats at the hands of Dom Barrett of Cambridge, England (207-206, at Wichita, Kansas, in 2018), and then  to Chris Via of Springfield, Ohio (214-213, at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nevada, in 2021). In addition to his 7 PBA tournament victories, Jakob also has 3 Gold Medals in Team USA competition.

I can’t help but wonder what young viewers of YouTube in 25 years will think when they see all of the competitors at the 2021 U.S. Open wearing surgical masks. There doesn’t appear to be any significance to wearing the masks, except that they all contain a major sponsor name or logo. There’s also no mention by the announcers about the masks during the broadcast, as we had all become ‘comfortably numb’ about the process of wearing masks by that time.

Speaking of Pink Floyd, has anyone else noticed the bizarre correlation between the COVID-19 confusion and many of the lyrics in “Comfortably Numb?” Here are just a few:

I hear you’re feeling down

Well I can ease your pain

I’ll need some information first

Just the basic facts

Can you show me where it hurts?

Okay, okay, okay

Just a little pinprick

There’ll be no more

But you may feel a little sick

You have become comfortably numb

It would appear that Pink Floyd was not only psychedelic, but also psychic.


Photos provided by PBA, LLC