PLANO, Texas – After falling short in two recent opportunities to win the third title of her Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour career, Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, finally was able to find the winner’s circle in the last standard event of the 2017 season.
The 25-year-old right-hander topped fellow Team USA member Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, 226-224, to win the 2017 Nationwide PWBA Rochester Open.
In the see-saw match, Pluhowsky jumped out to an early lead with four strikes in her first five frames, but a missed 10 pin in the sixth frame shifted the momentum in McEwan’s favor.
McEwan answered with strikes in frames seven through nine, and Pluhowsky struck in the eighth and ninth frames to set up the 10th frame most bowlers dream of – getting the chance to deliver in the final frame to win a professional title.
McEwan finished first, leaving a 10 pin on her first offering and a 7-10 split on the fill ball after the spare. That gave Pluhowsky, a 35-year-old left-hander, the opportunity to win her first official PWBA Tour title with two strikes and one pin.
The 17-time Team USA veteran threw the first shot for a strike. But, she nicked the ball return cover on her second shot, and, instead of stopping, she continued and left the 2-4 combination, allowing McEwan to win on the bench.
“I was pretty much down the whole match, but I tried to be optimistic after throwing the best shots I could in the 10th frame,” said McEwan, who won one title in each of the last two seasons (2015 and 2016). “It’s never a good feeling to sit down knowing it’s in the other player’s hands, especially at this level. I absolutely expected her to throw great shots in that situation, but I was fortunate to come away with the win.”
When McEwan qualified for the championship round of the PWBA Rochester Open, it was the third show she made in as many weeks and her fourth of the season.
She suffered a couple of disappointing losses in the finals of the PWBA Orlando Open and PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open, where she finished third and fourth, respectively, and she entered the finals of the Rochester event motivated to end the streak on a positive note.
The win earned McEwan $10,000 and a spot in the season-ending Smithfield PWBA Tour Championship in Richmond, Virginia, a 16-player invitation-only event she won in 2015 for her first title. The tournament will include the winners and top point-earners from the 2017 PWBA Tour season.
Pluhowsky earned her spot in the title match of the Rochester Open with a 254-181 win against fellow southpaw Kristina Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda, New York, a former collegiate standout at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, who was making her first PWBA television appearance.
In the three seasons of the relaunched PWBA Tour, Pluhowsky has made nine championship-round appearances but continues to fall short on TV. She does have two major victories, the 2006 United States Bowling Congress Queens and the 2014 Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America All-Star, but an official PWBA win has eluded her.
“I bowled two good games on TV this time, and I feel like I’m getting closer, but it just hasn’t happened yet,” said Pluhowsky, who had three runner-up finishes in 2016. “I had a lot of fun out there, and I threw some really good shots. The result may have been disappointing, but I can see a lot of progress, too. You can’t learn if you’re not there, so I’ll keep doing everything I can to get into that position.”
Although Pluhowsky hasn’t won a title in 2017, her consistent performance earned her enough points to qualify for the PWBA Tour Championship, where she’ll have one more opportunity to win.
In the opening game of the PWBA Rochester Open stepladder, Szczerbinski tossed four strikes in her first five frames to build a lead Colombia’s Clara Guerrero could not overcome.
Although Guerrero, a PWBA major champion, started the match with two strikes, she was unable to knock down more than eight pins on her first shot the rest of the way, allowing Szczerbinski to notch her first TV win, 201-149.
All qualifying and match-play rounds of the Nationwide PWBA Rochester Open were held at Rochester’s AMF Gates Lanes, on July 14-15. The championship round was held Aug. 6 at Plano Super Bowl in conjunction with the live finals of the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open.
For more information on the PWBA Tour, visit PWBA.com.
2017 NATIONWIDE PWBA ROCHESTER OPEN
At Plano Super Bowl, Plano, Texas
1, Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., 226 (one game), $10,000
2, Shannon Pluhowsky, Dayton, Ohio, 478 (two games), $5,000
3, Kristina Szczerbinski, North Tonawanda, N.Y., 382 (two games), $3,500
4, Clara Guerrero, Colombia, 149 (one game), $3,000
Match One – Szczerbinski def. Guerrero, 201-149
Semifinal – Pluhowsky def. Szczerbinski, 254-181
Championship – McEwan def. Pluhowsky, 226-224