LAS VEGAS - Although the final ball of the 2018 Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour season was rolled nearly two months ago, the tour's stars have not idly sat by waiting for next April and the start of the 2019 season.
While many are on the lanes and in the gym already preparing for next season, other players find themselves competing for their respective countries in events across the globe.
The QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup is considered one of the sport's most prestigious events, bringing bowlers from 83 countries in 2018 to compete for the women's and men's titles at Sam's Town Bowling Center, and the PWBA has been well-represented in the field and in the standings.
Eight PWBA members are in the 68-player women's field this week, and all eight have advanced to the top 24.
Malaysia's Sin Li Jane, who won the 2017 Pepsi PWBA Lincoln Open, leads after 24 games with a 5,111 total (212.96 average), and 2018 PWBA Player of the Year Shannon O'Keefe finished strong in Thursday's final round to move into third place with a 5,000 total.
Venezuela's Karen Marcano (fourth), Latvia's Diana Zavjalova (sixth), Singapore's Daphne Tan (seventh), Mexico's Tannya Lopez (ninth), Colombia's Maria Jose Rodriguez (11th) and Brazil's Stephanie Martins (14th) also put themselves in position to continue their push towards the World Cup title.
O'Keefe has been pushing herself on the lanes while serving as the head coach of the McKendree University women's bowling team.
"The kids I coach are in the middle of their first semester right now, so the season is just getting into full swing," said O'Keefe, who led the Bearcats to the 2017 NCAA and Intercollegiate Team Championships titles. "I've been practicing with them just about every single day. I ask them to do a lot on the lanes, and it's not right if I'm not putting in the same work myself."
The eight-time PWBA Tour champion also isn't content on resting on her previous successes this offseason.
"I sent a text to my ball reps on tour, asking them to be brutally honest with me," O'Keefe said. "I wanted to know what my issues were when I struggled, and how we need to attack and fix them. I've been constantly practicing from my drive to always be better."
O'Keefe kept herself in contention with her spare shooting during the first two days of qualifying this week at Sam's Town as she worked out the kinks in her physical game, and now she feels like she's ready to make a run. She averaged 216 during her eight-game block Thursday after averaging under 205 during the first two rounds.
"The thing that's really nice with this event is that there are a lot of games," O'Keefe said. "I knew I had to find a way to be patient while I tried to get everything to fall into place, which they did today. I just need to stay focused on me the rest of the way out and control what I can control."
Qualifying consisted of three eight-game blocks over three days, with total pinfall determining the 24 players advancing for eight additional games Friday. After 32 games, total pinfall will determine the eight bowlers in each division for Saturday's round-robin match play.
The top four players in each division after 40 games, including bonus pins, will advance to Saturday's knockout-style semifinals. The winner of each semifinal match will move onto the championship match.
All rounds of competition at the 2018 World Cup will be broadcast live on BowlTV, and for more information on the World Cup, visit QubicaAMF.com.