BATON ROUGE, La. - United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Liz Johnson of Deerfield, Illinois, claimed her first title of the 2017 Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour season, delivering in the final frame of the PWBA Storm Sacramento Open.
The 2015 and 2016 PWBA Player of the Year captured her 17th career PWBA Tour title by defeating Latvia's Diana Zavjalova, 224-211, in the title match of the stepladder finals that aired nationally on CBS Sports Network on Tuesday.
A back-and-forth championship match saw Johnson take the early lead after Zavjalova opened in the fourth frame, but Zavjalova regained the advantage after striking on her next five offerings.
Stepping up first in the 10th frame, Zavjalova had the opportunity to shut out Johnson with a sixth consecutive strike, but she left a 6-7 split and was unable to convert.
Johnson took advantage by delivering three strikes in the 10th frame to secure the win and $10,000 top prize.
"I didn't expect that opportunity in the 10th from Diana," said Johnson, who now has collected a tour-leading six wins since the relaunch of the PWBA Tour in 2015. "I had very little to play with, but had to be aggressive. I don't feel like I'm afraid to get up in that situation. If I fail, I fail, but I'm not afraid to go up there and make that shot. I don't think there's any greater feeling, and I'm very happy and proud of the way I was able to finish that game. I'm very confident and feel mentally and physically strong, and this win gives me a lot of momentum looking ahead at the rest of the season."
Zavjalova was looking to become the first player to claim a second title in the 2017 season. She won her second USBC Queens title in May, defeating Johnson in the title match.
Zavjalova, the No. 3 seed, worked her way into the title match by defeating three-time PWBA Tour champion Rocio Restrepo of Louisville, Ohio, in the semifinal, 221-198, and two-time winner Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, in the opening match of the stepladder, 192-163.
All qualifying and match-play rounds of the PWBA Storm Sacramento Open were held at Steve Cook's Fireside Lanes in Citrus Heights, California, on May 5-6.
The stepladder finals were held May 23 at the Raising Cane's River Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in conjunction with the USBC Queens and the finals of the QubicaAMF PWBA Sonoma County Open and PWBA Fountain Valley Open.
The Queen finals aired May 23 on CBS Sports Network, while the PWBA Sonoma County Open aired June 6. The PWBA Fountain Valley Open will air on CBS Sports Network on June 20 at 8 p.m. Eastern.