ARLINGTON, Texas - Traveling the globe as one of the world's top bowlers has given Colombia's Clara Guerrero the chance to experience countless locations and cultures.
This week, she'll make her first trip to China, and while she's excited about the latest stamp in her passport, there's also some anxiousness about the historic possibilities of her appearance at the 2016 QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup in Shanghai.
Last year in Las Vegas, Guerrero became the sixth woman to win the event for a second time and third to win in back-to-back years. Now, she can become the first woman to win the coveted World Cup three times.
"I think I'll be a little bit anxious to compete and experience this great tournament again, but I don't want to add any unnecessary pressure," said Guerrero, a 34-year-old right-hander and 2009 inductee into the World Bowling Writers Hall of Fame. "As always, I plan to do my best. I know the training and hours of preparation have been there, but I still need to treat this like any other event and focus on one day and one shot at a time. I can't think about what've I've done in the past."
Guerrero will lead a field of more than 65 women onto the lanes at Hao's Bowling in downtown Shanghai's Luwan Sports Complex, while the men's field is expected to feature nearly 90 competitors. Traditionally, the QubicaAMF World Cup includes representatives from more than 80 countries.
Qualifying at the 2016 World Cup will take place over four days, beginning Oct. 17, and this year's winners will be determined Oct. 22.
Representatives for the United States will be 2016 United States Bowling Congress Team USA Trials winners Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, and Marshall Kent of Yakima, Washington.
McEwan finished fourth at the World Cup in 2012 and 2013, while Kent was the runner-up in 2012.
In her first title defense, Guerrero got off to a slow start with a 160 opening-game but climbed her way to the top seed for the stepladder finals, where she defeated two-time World Cup champion Shannon Pluhowsky of the United States, 2-0.
In the men's championship match, Wu Siu Hong defeated South Africa's Francois Louw, 2-0, to become the first bowler from Hong Kong to hoist the World Cup. Hong will not be back in 2016 to defend his title.
The World Cup first was contested in 1965, and the tournament now is considered one of the sport's most prestigious singles titles. It also is recognized as the largest event in the sport in terms of number of countries competing.
Competitors this year will bowl 20 games over four days, before the field is cut to the top 24 men and top 24 women for eight additional games. After 28 games, total pinfall will determine the eight bowlers in each division for eight-games of round-robin match play.
The top four men and top four women after 36 games, including bonus pins, will advance to the new knockout-style semifinals, where the No. 1 seed will face the No. 4 qualifier and No. 2 and No. 3 will do battle. The winners of each match will earn a spot in the championship game.
Entering the 2016 tournament, Guerrero feels sharper than she did a year ago, thanks to a successful 14-week season on the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour, where she picked up her first PWBA win at the 2016 Go Bowling PWBA Players Championship in June.
She also found success at the 2016 Pan American Bowling Confederation Adult Championships, held in Cali, Colombia, as she helped Team Colombia claim the women's team gold medal for the first time.
"I feel much better than I did going into this event last year," Guerrero said. "I feel that bowling on the Tour for 14 weeks was the best training in the world, and I learned so much in that time. I've had a great year, and I'm hoping to carry that momentum, success and confidence into the World Cup."
Among the competitors on the women's side in Shanghai will be two-time winner Aumi Guerra of the Dominican Republic, who finished second in her bid for a third consecutive title in 2012.