TUCSON, Ariz. – It’s not a secret Shannon O’Keefe sets goals for herself each season. This week, she checked off an item she called a pie-in-the-sky, bucket-list goal.
O’Keefe captured her second title of the season with a 259-195 victory over Colombia’s Maria José Rodriguez in the title match of the PWBA Tucson Open at Golden Pin Lanes. It marked O’Keefe’s 10th career title, a goal she never thought was likely to happen in her bowling career.
“It’s a dream,” O’Keefe said. “When the tour started, I just wanted to win one. There were 12 years we didn’t have a tour and I always wondered, ‘If there was one, would I have been able to win a title?’ And now I’m sitting at 10.”
While the 10 career wins checked off an item on her bucket list, her main goal for the 2019 PWBA Tour season was just getting back to basics. She said the end of the 2018 season had become a grind, as she made a push for PWBA Player of the Year, and realized she needed to focus on the things she can control as a competitor.
“My goal this season was getting back to playing the game and loving it like when I was that 13-year-old girl running around the softball field with my hair on fire, and just doing it because I love the pure competition side of it,” O’Keefe said. “That’s my goal this season, to be able to do that. It’s a lot more fun bowling that way than with putting pressure on yourself.”
In Saturday’s title match, O’Keefe struck on five of her first six shots against Rodriguez. The strike in the sixth included the 2 pin and 9 pin tripping late, and following a made spare in the seventh, O’Keefe struck out to capture the title.
“I threw every single one of those shots perfect; well, at least that’s what it felt like,” O’Keefe said. “So, for it to result in a win and title No. 10, it’s one I’m going to remember.”
Rodriguez made the title match with a 247-216 victory over Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York. Rodriguez earned the No. 2 seed with a blistering performance on Saturday that included averaging 245 during the Round of 12 to jump from 14th into third.
“You always have a plan when you come into bowl and normally it doesn’t work,” Rodriguez said. “Then you have to search through bowling balls; that’s why we have so many balls. But we had a plan, we had four balls and we just used those four balls.”
Kuhlkin also had made some big moves during the day to reach the stepladder and was nearly perfect in the opening match against Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York. The duo matched strikes for the first four frames before McEwan had a 9-count in the fifth.
But Kuhlkin kept striking and threw 11 consecutive strikes before leaving the 9 pin on her final shot in a 299-226 victory.
There were two perfect games rolled during Saturday’s competition. Sydney Brummett of Wichita, Kansas, had a 300 in Game 4 of the Round of 32 and Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey, had 12 consecutive strikes in the opening game of the Round of 12.
BowlTV.com provided live coverage of all rounds of the event.
Competitors at the PWBA Tucson Open bowled two eight-game qualifying blocks on Friday and then the field was cut to the top 32. Another eight-game block on Saturday morning narrowed the field to 12 players, who bowled six more games with the 30-games pinfall total determining the stepladder finalists.
The 2019 PWBA Tour now heads to Fountain Valley, California, for the PWBA Fountain Valley Open at Fountain Bowl. Competition starts June 14, and BowlTV.com will have live coverage of all rounds, including the stepladder finals.