COLUMBUS, Ohio – Reigning three-time Professional Women’s Bowling Association Player of the Year Liz Johnson showed she’s ready for the final events of the PWBA Tour season by making a title-winning run at the Nationwide PWBA Columbus Open on Saturday.
Johnson rolled 23 strikes over three matches at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl to snag her 24th professional title. In the title match against top seed Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, Johnson flirted with a perfect game, connecting on her first nine shots before a 10 pin ended the run in a 278-202 victory.
Johnson started Saturday’s final round of qualifying with a 289 game, leaving a 10 pin on her second shot in the final frame.
“You couldn’t ask for a better day,” Johnson said. “I’ve had some troubles on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, (the lanes) seem to get a little tighter as the week goes on. I just made a couple of little changes, tweaked a little bit with my release.”
“I tried to keep it simple, stay with that game plan. For the most part, I stayed out of trouble, had a couple of big games, got to the show and then made some good shots.”
Pluhowsky remains without a PWBA title, having lost as the No. 1 seed for the third time. Her other two losses as the top seed came in 2016. Early in Saturday’s match, she left a 9 pin on a solid shot followed by an open frame despite a good shot on the spare attempt.
“A couple of hits here and there and the game’s different,” Pluhowsky said. “That’s what it takes to win. You have to get those hits, but you have to throw it there first. That’s why she’s the greatest one out here. She gets it done.”
Colombia’s Rocio Restrepo provided a tough test for Johnson in the semifinal. In a tight match throughout, Restrepo struck twice in the final frame to force Johnson to have to match her.
Johnson obliged in a 224-215 victory, though her second shot in the 10th did make for a little drama.
“I got away with it,” Johnson said of the light hit. “The second shot got away from me a little bit, and I caught a break, fortunately.”
Johnson started her run against Colombian native Clara Guerrero, striking on seven of her first eight shots. Guerrero, meanwhile, could not put together consecutive strikes as Johnson won, 234-205.
Guerrero did string together strikes in the opening match. She struck on four of her first five shots to build a 19-pin lead against rookie Jordan Richard of Tecumseh, Michigan, who was making her third consecutive television show.
While Guerrero left the 3-6-7-10 in the ninth frame, she had built a big enough lead and took a 210-198 victory.
The PWBA Tour heads to the Dallas area next week for the QubicaAMF PWBA Players Championship at Plano Super Bowl, and Johnson is ready.
“I feel good,” Johnson said. “This is a great confidence booster going into Dallas.”
The Nationwide PWBA Columbus Open was the third and final elite-field event on the 2018 PWBA Tour. The top 24 bowlers on the PWBA points list after the U.S. Women's Open qualified for the elite events with the remainder of the 32-player field at each event completed through a pre-tournament qualifier.
Competitors bowled 16 qualifying games on Friday before the field was cut to the top 12. Six additional games on Saturday morning determined the five players for the stepladder finals.