Malaysia's Sin wins second career title at the PWBA Bowlers Journal Rockford Open

ROCKFORD, Ill. – Sin Li Jane out of Malaysia returned to the Professional Women’s Bowling Association after a hiatus and came out on top in the second event of the 2024 season at The Cherry Bowl in Rockford, Illinois, at the PWBA Bowlers Journal Rockford Open.

Sin defeated Ukraine’s Dasha Kovalova 204-154 in the title match to win her second career PWBA title after leading most of qualifying and claiming the No. 1 seed in the stepladder finals. She previously won the 2017 Pepsi PWBA Lincoln Open.

Saturday night’s stepladder started with Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York, and Singapore’s Shayna Ng, as Kuhlkin was looking to avenge her runner-up finish in Rockford from the 2022 event.

Kuhlkin started strong with five strikes in the first six frames, but Ng stayed within striking distance after Kuhlkin left and chopped the 3-6-10 in the seventh frame. Ng was unable to capitalize on the miscue however, and Kuhlkin finished with a 222 while Ng ended with 189.

Ng earned $5,500 for the fifth-place finish.

Waiting for Kuhlkin in the next match was Josie Barnes of Hermitage, Tennessee, who was on the hunt for her fifth career PWBA title and first since winning the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open.

The match quickly went awry for Kuhlkin however, opening back-to-back frames in the second and third frames, and while Barnes had an early open as well, Kuhlkin was never able to find a consistent look on the lanes. Two more opens sealed Kuhlkin’s fate as she was only able to manage a 150 game while Barnes ended up victorious with a 213.

For the fourth-place finish, Kuhlkin earned $6,500.

The semifinal match pitted Barnes against Kovalova and would come down to the final frame, as neither competitor could pull away. Just when Kovalova had a chance to do that while working on a double going into the seventh frame, she left a 6-7 split, giving Barnes an opportunity to take control of the match. But Barnes left a split of her own, a 2-10, and Kovalova held on to the lead going into the closing frame.

Barnes ended the match first, closing with a 192, and Kovalova needed a mark in the first ball in the tenth. Her first shot went a little wide, never fully recovering and leaving the 2-8-10 combo. Kovalova converted the baby split and struck in the fill ball to advance to the title match with a 204. Barnes collected $7,500 for the third-place finish.

The championship match looked to be a good one, as both Kovalova and Sin pulled away from the field during the four rounds of qualifying, trading turns at holding the lead during the event and were now facing off for the title.

Kovalova encountered some unlucky carry early on though, hitting the pocket in the first four frames and leaving four straight single-pin spares, which she converted. Sin had three strikes in the same frames, but left a baby split and missed in the fifth frame to give Kovalova an opportunity to pull out in front.

Kovalova could not capitalize on it however, leaving her own split in the seventh, while Sin took back control of the match with a few more strikes. Kovalova experienced some bad ball reaction and split twice more to end the match with a 154, while Sin captured the title with a 204. 

Kovalova earned $10,000 for her runner-up finish while Sin earned the tournament’s top prize of $20,000 and the trophy.

“It means a lot to me to win on the PWBA Tour again, it’s been so many years,” Sin said after the win. 

In prior years, Sin and the rest of Team Malaysia traveled together for the tour season, but Sin traveled stateside on her own for the 2024 season.

“It’s taken a lot of courage to do that, and I feel like I have a lot more confidence and belief now after today.”

Sin will look to maintain that confidence level heading into the season’s first major: the USBC Queens held in Green Bay, Wisconsin, at the Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley starting May 14.

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