ARLINGTON, Texas – Sixteen of the top performers on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour this season will converge on Uptown Alley in Midlothian, Virginia, for the final event of the 2016 season, the Smithfield PWBA Tour Championship, from Sept. 1-4.
The PWBA Tour Championship brings together all eligible champions from 2016, with the remainder of the field filled through the season points list. All players will compete in a single-elimination, best-of-five match-play bracket to determine the four competitors who will advance to the live finals, which will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network on Sunday at 2 p.m. Eastern.
The 16-player field and bracket match ups became official Tuesday following the TV broadcast of the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open on CBS Sports Network.
Reigning PWBA Player of the Year Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, New York, who won the season-opening Las Vegas Open in May and claimed her fifth U.S. Women’s Open title in August, already has earned her spot on the Tour Championship TV show as the season points leader with 104,650.
Joining her on the live show will be Colombia native Rocio Restrepo of Louisville, Ohio, who captured her second title of the season Tuesday night at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open. The victory pushed Restrepo into the second spot on the points list with 99,025 points. She claimed her first career PWBA title at the Greater Detroit Open in July.
Johnson also is seeking her second consecutive PWBA Player of the Year award. She holds a 5,625-point advantage heading into the final event, meaning Restrepo must win the PWBA Tour Championship title to catch Johnson for the honor.
“This season was tough, as the field and talent just keeps getting stronger and stronger,” Johnson said. “To be in the position I am in now, for potential back-to-back player of the year runs, is something I never imagined.”
Defending champion Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, won her second career title this season at the PWBA Wichita Open, finished third at the United States Bowling Congress Queens in May and led the Tour in match-play appearances with 10 to earn the third seed and a first-round bye at the PWBA Tour Championship.
McEwan will face the winner of Friday’s match between Jennifer Higgins and New Hui Fen.
In earning the fourth seed for the PWBA Tour Championship, Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, tied for the lead this year with five championship-round appearances and was runner-up at the PWBA Las Vegas Open, Storm PWBA Sacramento Open and the U.S. Women’s Open. She will face the winner of Friday’s opening match between Diana Zavjalova and Amanda Greene.
The other first-round matches on Friday are: Go Bowling PWBA Players Championship winner Clara Guerrero vs. PWBA Storm Sacramento Open champion Cherie Tan; Kelly Kulick vs. PWBA Lexington Open winner Bryanna Coté; three-time 2016 titlist Shannon O’Keefe vs. PWBA Rochester Open winner Josie Earnest and Stefanie Johnson vs. Maria Jose Rodriguez.
Friday’s Higgins-New match also could determine the winner of the PWBA Rookie of the Year award. Higgins (56,025) holds a small advantage over New (52,250) on the points list, and if Higgins wins the opening match, she will claim the 2016 honor. New, a member of Team Singapore, would need to win the opening match and then defeat McEwan in Round 2 to pass Higgins and win PWBA Rookie of the Year.
The PWBA Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards are determined by competition points.
Friday and Saturday’s best-of-five matches will take place two at a time, with every match broadcast live on Xtra Frame, the exclusive online bowling channel of the Professional Bowlers Association. For subscription information, visit XtraFrame.TV.
Go to PWBA.com for more information about the PWBA Tour including the Tour Championship bracket, news, player biographies and more.