LINCOLN, Neb. - Jordan Richard of Tecumseh, Michigan, claimed her second Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour title with a wire-to-wire victory at the 2019 PWBA Lincoln Open.
The 2018 PWBA Rookie of the Year led every round leading up to the stepladder finals Saturday at Sun Valley Lanes and defeated Mexico's Sandra Gongora in the title match, 215-195, to collect the $10,000 top prize.
BowlTV.com provided live coverage of the 2019 PWBA Lincoln Open.
Richard gained the early advantage in the finals, striking on three of her first four deliveries to build a 10-pin lead on Gongora, who was looking for her first career PWBA Tour title.
The difference remained close as neither player was able to record a double as they approached the final frame. Richard, finishing the match first, was working on a strike entering the 10th frame and needed to fill 19 pins to shut out Gongora.
The 23-year-old right-hander rolled a strike to record her second double of the finals, and she secured the win and a spot at the season-ending PWBA Tour Championship in Richmond, Virginia, after toppling seven pins on her next shot.
The 2019 PWBA Tour Championship will be held at Richmond Raceway on Sept. 15-18 and invites the top 16 players for the season to compete for the final major championship of the season. Players can earn a spot by winning an event throughout the season or through the season-long points list.
"I'm pretty speechless right now," said Richard, who won the 2018 PWBA Greater Harrisburg Open. "This is a dream come true, and I'm really excited to head back to Richmond. It was a lot of fun last year, and I'm really glad I get to go back."
Richard held the top spot in the standings after each round at Sun Valley Lanes this week, and she had no intentions of giving it up after some close calls in the early portion of the 2019 season.
She was in the top four heading into the final game at the season-opening Nationwide PWBA Greater Cleveland Open before finishing in fifth place, and dropped out of the cut during the final game of the Round of 32 at the PWBA Twin Cities Open, finishing in 13th.
"I wanted to build myself a lead," said Richard, who led qualifying by 65 pins over Gongora. "And then, I wanted to stay up there and avoid getting in the same situation I've found myself the past two weeks, just missing cuts by a couple of pins. I talked to my mom and told her I wasn't going to give those pins away this week. I stayed with it, and once I got there, I just kept moving forward."
Gongora, a 33-year-old right-hander, was happy to post the best finish of her career after struggling during the first two weeks of the 2019 season. She had finished in 52nd and 60th during the first two events of the season.
Her only other championship-round appearance came at the 2016 PWBA Las Vegas Open, where she finished in third place.
Gongora stayed clean for both of her matches, including a semifinal win over Liz Johnson of Palatine, Illinois, 203-174, but she was unable to record a double in the finals.
"Carry ended up being a little tough for me, and then when I needed to make good shots, I didn't make it happen," Gongora said. "Of course, anything can happen in one game, and the right lane was a little funny for me. I needed to be almost perfect to get to the pocket, and that's why I wasn't able to strike in those frames.
"But, I'm happy with my performance. Coming from two weeks where I wasn't very consistent, I came out and developed a plan for this week. Lincoln always has been good to me, and I had to take advantage of this pattern because it played into my A game. I'm not going to rest or stop until I get a title, because that's my dream."
In Saturday's opening match, Johnson stayed clean in a 215-184 victory over Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York.
Competition this week at the PWBA Lincoln Open included two eight-game qualifying blocks on Friday to determine the 32 players for Saturday's Round of 32. An additional eight-game block Saturday morning narrowed the field to 12 players, who bowled six additional games to determine the stepladder finalists.
The second PWBA Regional event of the season will take place Sunday at Sun Valley Lanes. All competitors will bowl eight games of qualifying starting at 10 a.m. Eastern, with the top four advancing to the stepladder finals at 3 p.m. Eastern. BowlTV.com will provide coverage of both rounds.
The 2019 PWBA Tour season will continue May 15 at the United States Bowling Congress Queens, the first major championship of the season. The event will be held at Northrock Lanes in Wichita, Kansas.
BowlTV will provide live coverage of qualifying and match-play rounds, and the top five competitors at the end of the week will compete for the title live on CBS Sports Network. The finals will take place Tuesday, May 21 at 8 p.m. Eastern.