EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - Just days after helping Team USA capture a gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games, Shannon O'Keefe of Shiloh, Illinois, finds herself at the top of the leaderboard at the Professional Women's Bowling Association East Hartford Open.
O'Keefe, the reigning PWBA Player of the Year, edged 2018 PWBA Rookie of the Year Jordan Richard of Tecumseh, Michigan, by a single pin on Friday for the overall lead at Silver Lanes after 16 games, finishing with a 3,483 total, a 217.69 average.
Colombia's Maria José Rodriguez is third with 3,422, while Germany's Birgit Pöppler (3,417) and United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey (3,413), finished Friday in the top five.
The top 12 players through 16 games advanced to Saturday's Round of 12, which will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern. After six additional games, the top five bowlers based on 22-game pinfall totals will advance to Saturday's live televised final, which will air at 5:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network.
Julia Bond of Aurora, Illinois, finished Friday in 12th place to claim the final spot, posting a 3,296 total, a 206 average. Defending PWBA East Hartford Open champion Josie Barnes of Nashville, Tennessee, did not advance and finished in 25th place with a 3,151 total.
O'Keefe rolled the lone 300 game at Silver Lanes on Friday during her opening eight-game block, finishing with a 1,760 total. She noted the lanes played tougher during the second block, but games of 256 and 229 to finish helped her sneak past Richard.
O'Keefe, who's already claimed two titles this season, teamed with Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas, to win gold in doubles at the Pan American Games last month in Lima, Peru.
A total of 32 players earned spots in the elite field at the 2019 PWBA East Hartford Open. The top 24 players on the 2019 PWBA points list (through the U.S. Women's Open) secured automatic spots in the field, while a pre-tournament qualifier held Thursday at Silver Lanes determined the bowlers filling the rest of the field.
Three players in the elite field - Erin McCarthy of Omaha, Nebraska, and Singapore's Shayna Ng and Cherie Tan - did not compete this week, which allowed 11 bowlers to advance from the PTQ.
BowlTV.com is providing livestream coverage of all rounds leading up to the stepladder finals.