Two USA women’s team bowlers are headed to Las Vegas after reaching the top seeds of the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Sonoma County Open in Rohnert Park. Kelly Kulick (1) and Shannon O’Keffe (2) took the top two spots at Double Decker Lanes on Saturday after 24 highly contested games and a group stepladder tournament.
The two took the lead from Latvia’s Diana Zavjalova, who dominated the majority of the first rounds and was in first place after the casher’s round with a 4,027 total pinfall. Kulick was not far behind her with a 3,946 total. She had a simple mindset going into Saturday’s finals.
“It’s just to try to catch her. Anything can happen in the stepladder,” she said. “With match play, we have 30 bonus pins, so I just tried to get close enough to catch her, and I did.”
The bowlers were so close in total pinfall it was hard to predict who might take the top seed after Saturday’s final stepladder.
“I had some great performances in the games prior,” said Kulick. “I knew how to play the lanes. It was going to be anyone’s match, it really was.”
Kulick earned the title of PWBA spokesperson after being the first woman to win Professional Bowlers Association Tour title in 2010.
Since then, she’s had six champion-round appearances in the PWBA, the most in the league. She’s also played alongside O’Keffe on the USA bowling team, where she won gold for mixed doubles and silver for singles in the 2013 World Games.
O’Keefe is an eleven-time member of team USA and a five-time world champion herself. She took the No. 2 seed on Saturday after trailing in 12th place after Friday’s matches.
“I missed some spares in qualifying that I don’t normally miss so I was really frustrated,” she said. “These tournaments can be really brutal, so it’s about really trying to stick with the process, not think too far ahead and not beat myself up for bad shots.”
Hui Fen New of Singapore took the third seed after the group stepladder tournament and Ohio’s Jennifer Higgins took fourth.
All four finalists are invited to the United States Bowling Congress Queens major tournament in Las Vegas, which will be recorded on May 26 and televised June 14.
Friday’s round 2 action saw New York’s Danielle McEwan take away first place from strong competitor Zavjalova, who bowled the only perfect game in the tournament.
Zavjalova was able to fight back and obtain first place after Saturday’s casher’s round with a 4,027 total.
Zavjalova was the 2013 United States Bowling Congress Queens champion and finished Friday’s 12 games with a 2,694 total. McEwan fell to fourth place after the casher’s round with a 3,928 total.
The Sonoma County open started Thursday with qualifying matches taking place through Saturday.
The tour returned last year after a 12-year hiatus, and this is the first year the PWBA has stopped in Rohnert Park.
Jim Decker, the proprietor of Double Decker Lanes, says the bowling alley is slated to host the PWBA next year as well.