EAGAN, Minn. - Reigning Professional Women's Bowling Association Player of the Year Shannon O'Keefe of Shiloh, Illinois, collected her first title of 2019 and ninth career victory Saturday at the PWBA Twin Cities Open.
O'Keefe relied on her spare game throughout the week at Cedarvale Lanes to earn the top seed for Saturday's stepladder finals, and she converted a 4 pin and delivered a strike in her final frame to secure a 189-182 win over England's Verity Crawley.
The 40-year-old right-hander claimed the $10,000 top prize live on BowlTV.com.
"It's incredible," said O'Keefe, a 15-time Team USA member. "When the tour started again, my dream was to win one title. Now, here I am sitting at nine and one step closer to reaching my next goal - 10 titles. It just feels so good with all of the hard work I've put in."
Although O'Keefe's spare shooting was strong throughout competition, it nearly derailed her in the title match. She missed a pair of 3-6-10 combinations on the left lane through the first seven frames, but still maintained a slight advantage in the match.
She had built the lead after Crawley left back-to-back 2-8-10 splits on the left lane earlier in title tilt.
"I just missed them right off my hand," said O'Keefe, who also defeated Crawley in the title match of the 2018 PWBA Sonoma County Open. "I knew it the second it left my hand. As the games progressed through each block, I was quickly moving left and balling down, so I knew I was going to stay committed to what got me here. Every shot I executed well in the title match was really, really good, but each of those 3-6-10s were poorly executed. I just made some bad shots."
O'Keefe stayed clean in the eighth and ninth frames, which gave Crawley, who rolled a strike in the ninth frame, the opportunity to deliver a pair of strikes in the 10th frame for the chance to claim her first career PWBA Tour title.
Crawley got to the pocket on her first shot but was unable to get the 10 pin to fall, putting O'Keefe in the position to mark for victory.
"I was so, so worried that those two spares I missed earlier in the match were going to cost me," O'Keefe said. "When I was looking at the 4 pin in the 10th, I just told myself to make it. I was very happy when I saw my spare shot was on line and there was no doubt I was making it. It definitely was a relief."
Crawley finished as the runner-up for the fourth time in her career, but she's walking away knowing the extra work she's put into preparing for this season is starting to pay off.
"Honestly, I threw both 2-8-10s really well and was happy with them in the moment," Crawley said. "Obviously, the lane said otherwise. If anything, they were a pinch fast, which isn't my tendency, but lately I've been trying to stay a bit more aggressive. I made the decision to move left and actually get around it a little bit more after the second 2-8-10, which looked better but wasn't able to get out the 10 in the 10th frame.
"I'm very positive coming away from this right now, though. I've worked very hard, and right now, I feel like my game is in a very good place. I think this just gives me an extra boost of confidence going into the next couple of weeks."
Crawley advanced to the title match after rolling a double in the final frame to shut out Bryanna Coté of Red Rock, Arizona, 210-196.
In the opening round of Saturday's stepladder, Crawley delivered 11 strikes on the way to victory against Colombia's Maria José Rodriguez, 266-201.
Competition this week at the PWBA Twin Cities 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 2019 PWBA Tour season will continue May 9 at the PWBA Lincoln Open. The event will be held at Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln, Nebraska, with wire-to-wire coverage on BowlTV.