By Daniel Farish and Aaron Smith
RICHMOND, Va. - Six players at the 2019 Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour Championship were able to navigate through the opening round of match play Monday at the Old Dominion Building inside Richmond Raceway and continue their run at the fourth major title of the season.
Colombia's Clara Guerrero, Singapore's Cherie Tan and Shayna Ng, Sweden's Sandra Andersson, Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas, and Bryanna Coté of Red Rock, Arizona, each advanced in the best-of-five single-elimination format and will return to the season-ending event Tuesday, starting at noon Eastern.
The 2019 PWBA Tour Championship brings together the top 16 players of the season, with the finals being broadcast live on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network.
Guerrero was the only player to sweep her opening-round match, besting Josie Barnes of Nashville, Tennessee, 3-0. Each of those games came down to the final frame, however, with Guerrero sneaking by with wins of 208-207, 202-200 and 201-196.
Guerrero survived the first game as Barnes was unable to deliver a strike on her first shot of the 10th frame, but Guerrero took the second game by striking out in the final frame.
In Game 3, Guerrero doubled to force Barnes into a must-strike situation to win. Barnes also could have tied the game by knocking over nine pins on her first shot, followed by a spare and strike, but left a 2-8 combination on her first delivery.
"I just happened to be the one that won this match, but it was pretty rough," said Guerrero, the 2016 PWBA Players Championship winner. "The scoring pace was a little lower, and I was trying to stay patient. But, I love it. Those are the moments I train for. I'm very happy I was able to perform like that when I needed it."
Guerrero now will face Andersson during Tuesday's opening round. Andersson started strong in her Tour Championship debut, delivering in the final frame of Game 1 to claim a 268-257 win over Jordan Richard of Tecumseh, Michigan, on her way to a 3-1 victory.
Tan arguably has been on the best run of any bowler in the world the last several weeks, first winning a gold medal in Masters competition at the World Bowling Women's Championships at the end of August before earning her spot at the Tour Championship by winning her first career major at the QubicaAMF PWBA Players Championship to start September.
The 31-year-old left-hander once again looked dominant with wins of 278-230 and 229-157 to start her match against Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York, but Kuhlkin bounced back with wins of 199-190 and 269-191 to force a deciding game.
As Kuhlkin started striking in Game 4, Tan made a ball change as she started to lose her look. The switch helped her win Game 5, 256-219.
"Things went pretty well for me the first two games, but then I lost my look with urethane," said Tan, who owns two career PWBA Tour titles. "I spent all of the fourth game with my reactive ball and found something the last few frames, then it all came together the last game. My urethane was picking up too soon, and I moved right and it pushed. I got into a pearl symmetric because the other balls I tried had a nice shape but a flat reaction at the pocket, which wasn't going to cut it. The pearl had a great motion and carry, too."
Tan now will face Ng on Tuesday at 3 p.m. Eastern. Ng also went the distance in her match against Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, California, winning the final two games for a 3-2 victory.
"Shayna and I know each other's games really well," said Tan, who was the runner-up to Singapore's New Hui Fen at the 2016 Tour Championship. "It's great for Singapore because at least one of us is going to make it to the next round, but just one of us."
Joining Guerrero and Andersson during Tuesday's first of three rounds will be Stefanie Johnson and United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Liz Johnson of Palatine, Illinois. Stefanie Johnson defeated defending champion Maria José Rodriguez of Colombia, 3-1, to set up the second-round match with Liz Johnson.
Liz Johnson received a first-round bye by moving into fourth place on the season-long points list.
Tan and Ng will be joined at 3 p.m. Eastern by Coté and Ukraine's Dasha Kovalova. Coté won her final two games against Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, to advance, 3-2.
Kovalova also received a bye in the first round and is the No. 3 seed this week in Richmond.
The winners in Tuesday's first two rounds will return to the Old Dominion Building at 6 p.m. Eastern in hopes of earning a spot in Wednesday's knockout-style championship round.
Shannon O'Keefe of Shiloh, Illinois, and Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, already have secured their spots in the semifinals as the top two players on the 2019 points list.
The 16-player field at the Tour Championship included all of this year's eligible PWBA Tour champions, and the final spots in the bracket were filled in using the 2019 PWBA points list.
Four lanes once again were specially installed inside the Old Dominion Building by QubicaAMF, the official supplier of bowling equipment for the 2019 PWBA Tour Championship.
All rounds leading up to the championship round will be broadcast live on BowlTV.com.