PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio - The 2019 Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour season kicked off in dramatic fashion Saturday as Josie Barnes of Nashville, Tennessee, captured the Nationwide PWBA Greater Cleveland Open title.
Barnes, who now owns three career PWBA Tour titles, defeated Singapore's Cherie Tan in a thrilling finish at Yorktown Lanes, 223-213, to claim the title and $10,000 top prize.
The stepladder finals were streamed live at BowlTV.com.
The title match came down to the final frame with Tan leading by a single pin. Barnes, finishing the match first, delivered three strikes in the 10th frame to force Tan to do the same to claim her second career title.
Tan, a left-hander who was the top seed at the PWBA Greater Cleveland Open, stepped up and made one of her best shots of the week to start her final frame but was denied by a 9 pin on her first delivery.
"I knew if I didn't strike out, I probably wasn't going to win the match," said Barnes, a 30-year-old right-hander. "I knew Cherie was going to go up and make some great shots, since she's been making them all week. I made sure I stuck to my process, and after I got the third strike I sat down and told myself if it's meant to be, it'll happen.
"As soon as she let it go, I knew it was a great shot. As soon as I saw the 9 pin stand, I just started to cry. I guess it was supposed to be my day, and I'm going to enjoy this one."
The championship match saw Barnes face some transition on the right lane after leaving the 3-6-9-10 and 3-6-8-10 combinations in the third and fifth frames, respectively. She was unable to convert the split in the fifth frame, letting Tan move into the lead.
She made the correct adjustment to strike in the seventh frame and delivered another strong shot in the ninth frame, leaving and converting a 10 pin, to set the stage for the exciting finish.
"I thought I threw it a little slow in the third, so I made a small move off it," said Barnes, who is a seven-time Team USA member. "I thought I threw it really well in the fifth and knew at about 30 feet it wasn't going to hold. At that point, I had to make a gutsy move to give myself a chance. After talking with my ball reps, we decided to make a 3 and 2. Even though I left the 10 pin in the ninth frame, I controlled the pocket and knew that was all I could really do."
Tan led each round this week, and bested the field by more than 220 pins to earn the top seed. She started the title match using a urethane bowling ball, but switched back to a ball with a reactive coverstock in the sixth frame after three consecutive spares.
"Shannon (Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio) was using urethane, so I thought I'd give mine a shot," said Tan, who won the 2016 PWBA Storm Sacramento Open. "It was reading really nicely, and my reactive ball was struggling a little in the mids, so I decided to start with urethane. I threw the first shot in the 10th really well, and that's the only thing you can do. I can only control how well I throw it, and the rest is up to the pins, not me. But, it feels really great to bowl well since I was struggling during the second half of last year. I made some changes to my game, so I'm glad they're holding up."
Barnes advanced to the title match after delivering in the 10th frame against Singapore's Jazreel Tan, 234-232.
Jazreel Tan finished the semifinal first, rolling three strikes to force Barnes to fill 26 pins to win. Barnes delivered a double and toppled seven pins on her fill ball to advance.
Jazreel Tan started Saturday's stepladder finals by rolling nine strikes on her way to a 266-225 victory over Pluhowsky.
Competition this week at the Nationwide PWBA Greater Cleveland 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 first PWBA Regional event of the season will take place Sunday at Yorktown Lanes. All competitors will bowl eight games of qualifying starting at 9 a.m. Eastern, with the top four advancing to the stepladder finals at 2 p.m. Eastern. BowlTV.com will provide coverage of both rounds.
The 2019 PWBA Tour season will continue May 2 at the PWBA Twin Cities Open. The event will be held at Cedarvale Lanes in Eagan, Minnesota, with wire-to-wire coverage on BowlTV.