LINCOLN, Neb. - For the second consecutive week, Sin Li Jane of Malaysia was the player to beat on the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour, this time earning the top seed for the stepladder finals of the 2017 Pepsi PWBA Lincoln Open.
Sin entered the final game of match play Saturday at Sun Valley Lanes just six pins ahead of amateur Thashaina Seraus of Aruba in the race for the No. 1 seed, and a position-round win over Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey, allowed Sin to maintain her advantage.
The 25-year-old right-hander compiled a 5-1 record and topped the Group B match-play standings with a 5,011 total, which included 30 bonus pins for each win. Seraus led the way in the Group A standings with 4,979 total and earned the No. 2 seed for the stepladder based on total pinfall for the week, including bonus pins for each win in match play.
The two will be joined in the championship round by No. 3 Liz Johnson of Deerfield, Illinois, and No. 4 Kulick, who advanced by winning their respective group stepladders.
Sin, a member of Team Malaysia, now has made four TV finals in seven PWBA events, including earning the top seed for last week's PWBA Wichita Open, the first event of her 2017 PWBA Tour campaign.
Despite the continued success, Sin understands there still is work to be done.
"I'm glad to finish as the top seed, but the work is not done yet," said Sin, who was the women's champion at the 2016 Malaysian International Open. "The pattern was quite difficult this week, but I just focused on what I'm supposed to do. The most important thing was to repeat shots. If I couldn't repeat on this lane condition, it would've been very difficult for me. Spares were very important, too. I will keep working to maintain my focus of what I'm supposed to do and we will see what will happen in Wisconsin."
The stepladder finals of both the Pepsi PWBA Lincoln Open and PWBA Wichita Open will be taped for broadcast June 25 at The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley, one of four telecasts at the Go Bowling PWBA Players Championship, the second major of the season,. The Pepsi PWBA Lincoln Open will air Tuesday, July 11, at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network.
Johnson, who is showing no signs of slowing down in 2017, defeated Diana Zavjalova of Latvia, 188-176, in the Group A final to qualify for her fifth consecutive TV show, one shy of the record of six, shared by USBC Hall of Famers Carolyn Dorin-Ballard (2001, 1997), Carol Gianotti (1992), Nikki Gianulias (1986) and Lisa Wagner (1985).
In the final match, Zavjalova had a chance to shut out Johnson late in the game, but an open in the ninth frame all but ended her chances. Johnson spared in the final frame to secure the victory.
"It's hard to believe I'm still doing this as long as I've been doing it," Johnson said. "I may say this one hundred million times, but I don't take it for granted. When you feel you can't physically do something as well as others, your mentality, your brain and your heart come into play. So, that's what I think I've been going on. Maybe it's not my "A" game, my "B" game, but I work with that "C" and "D" game, week in and week out. I take everything one game, one shot at a time. You can never let yourself get down. You just pick yourself up and move on to the next game or next frame and never give up."
Zavjalova defeated Maria Jose Rodriguez of Colombia, 255-197, in the Group A semifinal to earn the meeting with Johnson.
Seraus, who recently finished her senior season at Maryland Eastern Shore and was competing as an amateur, wasn't sure after her position-round match with Johnson ended if she had done enough to earn an automatic spot on the show. After confirmation from friends in the crowd, Seraus celebrated the realization of a dream.
"To tell you the truth, I don't have words," said Seraus, a two-time National Tenpin Coaches Association First-Team All-American. "During the game, I wasn't paying attention to the score, so after the final shot, I asked Anggie (Ramirez Perea) if I made it, and she said yes. It's something I dreamed about when I was younger. My dream was to compete against these amazing women I watched. I knew I had a shot at doing it one day, but I never thought I would be up there with them. It's an amazing feeling. It hasn't sunk in yet, but it's amazing."
Kulick will make her second TV appearance of the season, bringing her total to 12 championship-round appearances since the relaunch of the PWBA Tour in 2015.
She ran the ladder in Group B, defeating Kristina Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda, New York, 210-176, in the semifinal, and Colombia native Rocio Restrepo of Louisville, Ohio, 203-187, in the final.
Competition this week at the Pepsi PWBA Lincoln Open included two six-game qualifying blocks Friday to determine the 32 players for Saturday's cashers' round.
An additional six-game block Saturday morning narrowed the field from the 32 cashers to 12 players for round-robin match play.
The 2017 PWBA Tour season continues next week with the PWBA Greater Detroit Open at Super Bowl in Canton, Michigan.
Qualifying and match-play rounds of PWBA Tour events are broadcast on Xtra Frame, the exclusive online bowling channel for the Professional Bowlers Association.