WICHITA, Kan. - Last season, members of Team Malaysia combined to make three television appearances in four events on the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour.
In their first event of 2017, Malaysia's Sin Li Jane and Siti Rahman captured the top two seeds for the TV finals of the PWBA Wichita Open.
Sin will be the top seed, Rahman will be No. 2, and they will be joined on the show by No. 3 Liz Johnson of Deerfield, Illinois, and amateur Juliana Franco of Colombia in the fourth position.
The stepladder finals of the PWBA Wichita Open will be taped for broadcast June 25 at The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley, one of four telecasts at the Go Bowling PWBA Players Championship, the second major of the season, and will air Tuesday, July 4, at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network.
Sin and Rahman earned their spots on the show by leading their respective match-play groups Saturday at Northrock Lanes, with total pinfall, including bonus pins, determining the top seed. Johnson and Franco each rolled through their group stepladders to advance, with seeding based on their averages for the event.
Sin dominated Saturday, averaging more than 232, which included her six-game performances in the cashers' round (1,375) and match play (1,411). The 25-year-old right-hander will make her third TV appearance since joining the PWBA Tour in 2016.
Despite the success in 2016, Sin entered her first event of 2017 with a simple mindset.
"Based on past experiences at PWBA events, I kept it cool," said Sin, who finished second at the 2016 PWBA Greater Detroit Open and fifth at the 2016 United States Bowling Congress Queens. "I'm here to enjoy my game without any pressure. Last year, I was trying to adapt to the format as well. This year, I'm not thinking about scores. So, if I hit my target, everything will be fine. Those are my simple keys."
Rahman was the tournament leader after qualifying Friday and battled with Sin for the overall lead throughout Saturday. She is looking forward to having a successful 2017 PWBA Tour season.
"For me, it's important because it's my second year here," said Rahman, who rolled a 297 game during qualifying. "It's my dream. I expect more than last year and have made some changes in my game. It's quite prestigious to be here competing with professionals on the PWBA Tour. We also are hosting the Southeast Asian Games this year, and our coach is trying to prepare us."
Sin and Rahman join teammate Syaidataul Hamidi as Malaysian players who have made championship-round appearances at the PWBA Wichita Open. Hamidi rolled a 300 game en route to her first TV finals appearance at the 2016 event.
Johnson, the reigning two-time PWBA Player of the Year and runner-up at the 2017 USBC Queens, qualified for her fourth consecutive championship-round appearance and continues to make a case for a third consecutive player of the year award. She defeated Clara Guerrero of Colombia, 237-236, to win the Group B stepladder Saturday in an instant classic.
Through seven frames, both players combined for 12 strikes, with Johnson holding a one-pin lead. Guerrero finished the match first and struck on her fill ball to finish with 236. Johnson converted the 10 pin to start her final frame and needed 8 pins on the final shot to win by a pin. Johnson left a 4-10 split, but it was enough to advance.
It was the second time this season Johnson denied Guerrero a spot on TV, having previously defeated the long-time member of Team Colombia in the Group B stepladder final at the PWBA Fountain Valley Open, 258-226.
Guerrero defeated Jen Higgins of Westerville, Ohio, in the semifinal match Saturday, 237-188, to advance to the final against Johnson.
Franco, competing as an amateur, will make her PWBA TV debut after a successful run at the recent Queens, where she qualified for match play.
She defeated Shannon O'Keefe of O'Fallon, Illinois, 234-165, in the Group A stepladder final Saturday, after O'Keefe advanced to the final with a 225-189 win over Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio.
Competition this week at the PWBA Wichita Open included two six-game qualifying blocks Friday to determine the 32 players for Saturday's cashers' round.
An additional six-game block Saturday morning narrowed the field from the 32 cashers to 12 players for round-robin match play.
The 2017 PWBA Tour season continues next week with the Pepsi PWBA Lincoln Open at Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Qualifying and match-play rounds of PWBA Tour events are broadcast on Xtra Frame, the exclusive online bowling channel for the Professional Bowlers Association.