HERMOSILLO, Mexico - The United States and the Philippines both have found great success at the QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup, and the two countries added to their legacies Saturday by claiming the titles at the 2017 event.
Team USA's Jakob Butturff was victorious on the men's side, using the experience of a recent live TV appearance as motivation, while Krizziah Lyn Tabora quietly outdistanced a talented field to claim the women's title.
The semifinals and finals were broadcast live from Bol 300 on Hermosillo's Telemax (Channel 6) as well as BowlTV, and a center full of bowling fans helped celebrate the event's return to Hermosillo for a record third time.
On the way to win, Butturff struck on 17 of 21 opportunities across his two matches.
The 23-year-old left-hander defeated Colombia's Oscar Rodriguez in the finale, 246-201, as he was able to calmly continue the momentum of a near-perfect 266-176 semifinal victory over Malaysia's Ahmad Muaz.
"To be a world champion in something I love to do, I couldn't ask for more than this," said Butturff, who successfully defended the QubicaAMF World Cup title Derek Eoff won for the United States at Bol 300 in 2008. "The incredible support I have behind me, and the pride of being able to compete for my country, is indescribable. This really is an incredible feeling."
Butturff opened his semifinal with nine consecutive strikes, before leaving the 6-7 split in the final frame. Rodriguez earned his spot in the championship match with a 232-193 win over top-seeded Ildemaro Ruiz Jr. of Venezuela.
"The semifinal was exciting, but I feel the momentum and mindset might've been a little different if I ended up shooting 300," Butturff said. "I was able to win the match, which is the most important thing, and then I was able to stay focused and bowl another solid game."
Butturff's win is the 11th men's title for the United States at the World Cup and a record 19th overall for Team USA in the event's 53 years. Chris Barnes was the last to win, doing so in Poland in 2014.
The victory also serves as a bit of redemption for Butturff, who flew to Mexico almost immediately after a heartbreaking loss to former Team USA member Rhino Page in the championship match of the U.S. Open, an event Butturff led by more than 600 pins through 56 games.
Butturff was able to use the loss as motivation and the experience of his first live TV appearance as a benefit heading into Saturday's live telecast, which he almost wasn't a part of.
With one game to go in Friday's round-robin match play, Butturff was in fifth place, 35 pins out of a spot in the semifinals. Knowing it would take a strong mental and physical effort after a long two weeks, he was able to regain his composure and fire a 277 game to catapult himself into the show.
"This week, I was able to bowl some big games, and I bowled OK games when I needed to, but the main thing is to never get upset or give up, especially when it comes to those last-minute games," Butturff said. "On the U.S. Open show, being my first live show, I could definitely feel the nerves kick in. I feel like the nerves and being in that situation took away some of the pressure when I came here, and I was able to prevail with some of the best shots of my career to win a title for Team USA."
Tabora also piled on the strikes in her two wins Saturday at Bol 300, claiming the 2017 World Cup with a 236-191 victory against Professional Women's Bowling Association titlist Siti Rahman of Malaysia in the title tilt. Tabora used strikes in frames five through nine to pull away for good.
The 26-year-old right-hander first defeated three-time PWBA champion Rocio Restrepo of Colombia in the second women's semifinal, 249-222. Rahman earned her opportunity to bowl for the title by downing top seed and defending women's champion Jenny Wegner of Sweden, 227-197.
"I feel incredibly overwhelmed and very, very happy because it's my first title, and it was my first time bowling on TV," Tabora said. "I was very nervous and took it frame by frame. I was just focused on good shots and walking slow. To win is very special, and it means a lot because it helps get bowling recognized in the Philippines."
Tabora admitted there were extra nerves because of the lengthy resumes of the other three semifinalists, but that did not show as she dispensed of two of the hottest players in the world to bring the Philippines its eighth World Cup title.
The win was the first for the Philippines on the women's side since winning back-to-back titles in 1978 and 1979, while Paeng Nepomuceno is the event's winningest competitor, claiming four titles (1976, 1980, 1992, 1996) in a record 16 appearances. Christian Jan Suarez was the country's most recent winner, claiming the cup in 2003.
"Actually, I was very nervous because I know they're all world champions and have been doing very well," Tabora said. "I just wanted to do my best and make good shots. I don't know what to say about the win, really. I don't think it has sunk in yet."
The field at the 2017 World Cup started with 64 men and 54 women, representing 68 countries, and all competitors rolled 24 games of qualifying over four days, before being cut to the top 24 men and top 24 women for eight more games.
After 32 games, total pinfall determined the eight men and eight women who advanced to match play. Their 40-game totals, including bonus pins, determined the semifinalists.
Hermosillo previously hosted the World Cup in 1994 and 2008, and this year's visit also marks the record sixth time Mexico has played host.
The event first was contested in 1965, and the tournament now is considered one of the sport's most prestigious singles titles. It is recognized as the largest event in the sport in terms of number of countries competing.
For more information about the 2017 QubicaAMF World Cup, visit QubicaAMF.com.