MECHANICSBURG, Pa. - In just her fourth career Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour event, Jordan Richard of Tipton, Michigan, rolled to a dominating win Saturday at the PWBA Greater Harrisburg Open.
Richard earned the top seed through qualifying and defeated eight-time PWBA Tour champion Shannon O'Keefe of O'Fallon, Illinois, in the title match at ABC West Lanes, 222-194.
The stepladder finals were streamed live on Xtra Frame, the Professional Bowlers Association's online bowling channel.
The 22-year-old right-hander looked at home in the early stages of the title tilt, delivering strikes on three of her first four shots. Although she opened in the fifth frame after leaving the 4-6-7 split, Richard showed the poise of a veteran as she bounced back with strikes in the eighth and ninth frames.
"I tried not to worry about what everyone else was doing," said Richard, the 2018 U.S. Amateur champion and a member of Team USA. "I could only focus on what I could control and see how it played out after that. I saw the lanes completely different, and I played them a little farther right than I had all week. When I split in the fifth, it was left off my hand, so I knew it was just a bad shot, and I adjusted from there."
O'Keefe, a 39-year-old right-hander in search of her third title of the season, stayed clean to force Richard to mark in the 10th frame. Richard rolled a strike to seal the victory and earn her spot in the season-ending PWBA Tour Championship.
"I wanted to make a good shot and tried to keep my emotions in check," Richard said. "I did just that and it ended up falling my way this time. I'm excited, but I sure didn't think I'd win out here this soon. It's definitely humbling."
Richard's trek from a collegiate standout at Arkansas State to becoming a PWBA Tour champion happened with the support of her family members, who were on-site at ABC West Lanes for her victory. In addition to her parents, she was joined in the celebration by her sisters and nephew, including fellow PWBA Tour rookie Haley Richard.
"This win is just as much theirs as it is mine," Richard said. "They push me every single day to be better."
Richard joined the PWBA Tour just before the United States Bowling Congress Queens in May, and now finds herself as one of the front-runners for PWBA Rookie of the Year.
"I've tried to just play my own game and do what's best for me so far," Richard said. "And stay patient. That was the biggest thing I wanted to focus on coming out here. I didn't think I would win out here right away, because these girls are phenomenal and hard to beat. But, I knew if I stayed patient, my time would come, and it has been very exciting."
O'Keefe, who made her fourth championship-round appearance of the season, benefitted from a pair of 10th-frame miscues from her opponents on the way to the title match.
In the semifinal, O'Keefe finished with 170, forcing Lindsay Boomershine of Perry, Utah, to roll nine on the first shot of the 10th frame to advance. Boomershine left the 1-2-10 combination and was unable to convert, finishing with 167.
In the opening game of the stepladder, O'Keefe finished with 157, giving Bryanna Coté of Red Rock, Arizona, the chance to move on with a mark in her final frame. Coté left a 7 pin and missed the spare to finish with 150.
Competition this week at the PWBA Greater Harrisburg 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 2018 PWBA Tour season will continue June 23 with the second major of the year, the U.S. Women's Open. The event will be held at Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando, Florida, with the stepladder finals airing live on CBS Sports Network on June 30 at 5 p.m. Eastern.