Richard wins 2023 PWBA Great Lakes Classic for second title of season

Richard wins 2023 PWBA Great Lakes Classic for second title of season

WYOMING, Mich. – Jordan Richard of Tipton, Michigan, has had success on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour since her rookie season in 2018, but she has been having success at Spectrum Lanes for much longer than that.

That’s because the now-28-year-old right-hander used to bowl (and win) at Spectrum on a regular basis years ago while competing on the youth tournament circuit.  

On Tuesday night, she captured her first professional title at Spectrum Lanes by defeating England’s Verity Crawley, 241-171, live on BowlTV to win the 2023 PWBA Great Lakes Classic.

The victory was Richard’s second of the 2023 season and fourth of her PWBA Tour career, earning her $12,000 and the distinction of becoming the tour’s first two-time champion this season.

Crawley, who was also vying for her second title of the year, took home $6,000 for finishing second.

With Richard and Crawley both entering the title match having already won this season, the matchup was billed as an early battle for the lead in the 2023 PWBA Tour Player of the Year race.

Early on, the bout lived up to the hype as Richard started with a four-bagger while Crawley came out of the gate with three strikes of her own before settling for a spare in the fourth.

That’s as close as it would get, however, as Crawley went on to open the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth frames thanks to two chops, a split and a washout. 

Richard suffered a split and opened the fifth frame as well, but she bounced back with a spare in the sixth and then carded another four-bagger in frames six through 10 to put the match away and reach the winner’s circle for the second time in less than a month – she won the PWBA GoBowling! Spokane Open on May 13.

Winning is always special to Richard, but winning at Spectrum meant even more since it’s a center that holds a lot of fond memories for her and her family.

“We used to bowl MJMA (Michigan Junior Masters Association) at Spectrum at least once a year, and I won here, my older sister won here and my twin won here as well,” Richard said. “We’ve always bowled well at Spectrum, so it’s kind of been like a home away from home.”

Richard certainly appeared comfortable, capturing the top seed for the Great Lakes Classic stepladder finals by going 18-6 during Monday and Tuesday’s three 8-game blocks of round-robin match play.

Most bowlers enjoy being the top seed for the finals. Richard, on the other hand, has mixed feelings on the subject. 

“I didn’t even realize that I was in the lead until we got ready to bowl the position round,” Richard said. “Sometimes I feel it’s good to be the No. 1 seed, but other times I feel like I need a couple games to get loose.

“However, in this tournament, toward the end of my blocks is when my ball reaction got better and better, so letting the other finalists break the lanes down for me and leaving me with the least number of games possible was okay with me this time.”

Getting a little bit of rest certainly couldn’t have hurt Richard’s cause; after all, she had already done more than her share of bowling this week.

The 2018 PWBA Rookie of the Year racked up 61 games during her six days of competition at the 2023 PWBA Classic Series – Grand Rapids, 12 at the PWBA Grand Rapids Classic, 24 at the PWBA BowlTV Classic and 25 enroute to the title at the PWBA Great Lakes Classic.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t her endurance that Richard was most proud of after her latest victory; it was her ability to reach the top despite having to navigate the Great Lakes Classic’s difficult match-play format.

“To win an event like this one means a lot because with the 30 bonus pins that are available in match play, anything can happen,” Richard said. “If you lose one game and the people around you win and shoot 250, you drop 10 spots, and it’s so easy to do that. Still, I just tried to stay focused on what I was doing, and that helped me stay near the top.”

Speaking of being near the top, with three stepladder finals appearances and two victories already under her belt this season, Richard has put herself right in the thick of the 2023 PWBA Tour Player of the Year race.

But Richard isn’t looking that far down the road; instead, she’s trying to enjoy the ride and stay focused on the tasks at hand.

“Of course, I would love to add an award like that to my resume, but there have been times before when I’ve gotten too focused on that, which caused me to start bowling really bad,” Richard said. “I feel like right now I just have to take care of myself and do what I’m doing best.

“I’m in a really good place in my life right now where I’m extremely happy, and I think that shows a lot on the lanes. I’m happy and bowling well, so I really couldn’t ask for more.”

Shannon O’Keefe of Shiloh, Illinois, knows a little something about happiness and peace of mind off the lanes catapulting a bowler to new heights on them as that’s one of the factors that has helped her win 15 PWBA Tour titles and secure three PWBA Tour Player of the Year awards of her own (2018, 2019 and 2022).

O’Keefe, who entered the stepladder finals as the No. 5 seed, made a strong run of her own Tuesday night, defeating Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, 267-238, in Match 1 and Latvia’s Diana Zavjalova, 238-184, in Match 2 before falling to Crawley (216-210) in the semifinals.

O’Keefe’s third-place finish was worth $4,000. Zavjalova and Pluhowsky earned $3,000 and $2,600, respectively. 

The Classic Series – Grand Rapids featured three events – PWBA Grand Rapids Classic, PWBA BowlTV Classic and PWBA Great Lakes Classic – and kicked off Thursday with nearly 100 athletes.

The combined qualifying totals for the Grand Rapids Classic and BowlTV Classic (24 games) determined the 24 athletes advancing to the Great Lakes Classic.

Pinfall dropped at the beginning of the Great Lakes Classic, and competition consisted of three eight-game rounds of match play Monday and Tuesday. Total pinfall for 24 games, including bonus pins for each victory in match play, determined the five finalists for Tuesday’s championship round.

Crawley won the Grand Rapids Classic on Friday for her second career title. Stephanie Zavala of Downey, California, claimed her fifth PWBA Tour title Sunday night at the BowlTV Classic.

PWBA Tour action resumes Friday in Parma Heights, Ohio, at the 2023 PWBA Bowlers Journal Cleveland Open, which will take place at Yorktown Lanes from June 8-10.

Categories: Tournaments, Players
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