Shannon O’Keefe Looking for Third Career Victory at 2019 PWBA Sonoma County

by Emil Williams, USBC Communications 0

ARLINGTON, Texas – Shannon O’Keefe of Shiloh, Illinois, has won nine career titles on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour but two of her wins came at the PWBA Sonoma County Open.

This week, the PWBA Tour begins its West Coast swing and Double Decker Lanes in Rohnert Park, California, will host the best women bowlers in the world for the fourth consecutive season.

Competition at the PWBA Sonoma County Open starts Friday with two eight-game qualifying blocks before the field is cut to 32 players. After eight additional games Saturday morning, the top 12 players will bowl a final six-game block to decide the four players who will compete in the stepladder finals.

BowlTV.com, the exclusive livestreaming home of the PWBA Tour, will have wire-to-wire live coverage of the event, including Saturday’s stepladder finals at 5:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. Eastern).

This event always seems to bring out the best in O’Keefe, as she’s conquered the difficult lane conditions in 2016 and 2018 with each holding its own spot in her personal history.

The 2016 win was her first singles title on the PWBA Tour after years of struggle and tough losses in previous title matches.

The 2018 event saw a classic title match between O’Keefe and England’s Verity Crawley, an unexpectedly high-scoring match based on the scoring conditions of the week. O’Keefe won the match against top-seeded Crawley, 268-266. 

“I think the reason it brings out the best in me is because they’re really tough,” said O’Keefe, referring to the combination of challenging lane conditions and center characteristics of Double Decker Lanes. “I have learned to become very patient and rely on my shot execution and spare shooting, which is what the tournament boils down to.”

O’Keefe is familiar with entering an event as the defending champion. Last week, she was the defending champion at the United States Bowling Congress Queens, and despite an early first-round loss, she battled her way to a top-12 finish after making a run in the Contenders bracket.

The McKendree women’s bowling coach used her finish as a positive and embraced the results as teachable lessons.

“It was very easy for me to be positive after defeat because I was very proud of my performance,” O’Keefe said. “I lost my first match by two pins and I was disappointed at the time, but I was proud of my execution. I worked hard but sometimes the pins just don’t fall your way. 

“So, if I can’t take the positives and learning moments out of every experience, good or bad, how am I going to expect my girls at McKendree to do the same? I’m really trying to live as an example to them that you can still be very proud of your performance, even when you’re defeated.”

Although her performance left her short of repeating as champion, her Queens week earned her one of two Team USA women’s positions for the 2019 Pan American Games to be held July 26 through Aug. 11, with the bowling competition scheduled for July 25-30. O’Keefe earned a spot based on her finish at the Pan American Games Trials and the USBC Queens.

The Queens was the second part of a two-part qualifying process that started in March with the Pan American Games Trials held at the International Training and Research Center in Arlington.

O’Keefe will join her “sister,” longtime friend and teammate, Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas, who earned the first women’s spot on the Pan American Games team. O’Keefe and Johnson were busy “crunching numbers and doing the math” as qualifying was underway, hoping they had each done enough to earn spots.

Held every four years, in the year preceding the Summer Olympics, the Pan American Games is the second largest multi-sport event that brings together the 41 National Olympic Committees that comprise PanamSports.

“Stefanie and I were pretty sure with a block of qualifying to go that I had already qualified,” O’Keefe said. “When I saw her the next morning, we were jumping up and down and we hadn’t even got final confirmation yet. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity – a dream come true. And to be able to do this with my sister… She is the sister I never had but always wanted. 

“We started our Team USA journey 15 years ago and every part of our international careers, I feel we’ve done together. It’s so fitting and truly feels like a gift from God that we were able to qualify together. It’s another one of our amazing journeys together and I’m incredibly blessed and humbled by it and I’m ready to go.”

The field for the PWBA Sonoma County Open also will have three players with ties to the Bay Area. 

Nichole Hiraoka of Daly City, Kimberly Power-DeFer of Hayward and Karen Rosprim of Albany. 

Power-DeFer is a PWBA member, while Hiraoka and Rosprim are non-members. Rosprim finished sixth in the 2017 PWBA Sonoma County Open.

Double Decker Lanes also will host a PWBA Regional on Sunday. The PWBA is holding five regional events in conjunction with national events on the 2019 PWBA Tour schedule. The one-day tournaments will have eight games of qualifying before the field is cut to the top four competitors for a stepladder final.

The first four regional winners (who are PWBA members) will compete in the Go Bowling! PWBA Regional Showdown, a special made-for-TV event that will air Aug. 24 on CBS Sports Network.

Elise Bolton of Merritt Island, Florida, and Julia Bond of Aurora, Illinois, have clinched berths in the event by winning the first two regionals of the season at Yorktown Lanes in Parma Heights, Ohio, and Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln, Nebraska, respectively.

BowlTV.com will have live coverage of this season’s PWBA Tour events, including the stepladder finals of the first six standard events including the PWBA Sonoma County Open. The platform also offers access to behind-the-scenes content, classic PWBA telecasts, blogs, podcasts and instructional content. Visit BowlTV.com for more information.

CBS Sports Network will televise the stepladder finals of seven events on the 2019 PWBA Tour schedule, including all four majors, and will feature three prime-time shows in August. CBS Sports Network’s coverage of the PWBA continues June 23 with the U.S. Women’s Open, the second major event of the season. 

Visit PWBA.com to learn more information and for complete coverage of the 2019 PWBA Tour season.

About the PWBA
The Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) originally was formed in 1960. The PWBA Tour has events throughout the country, offering high-level competition and top prize money for women bowlers. The PWBA is supported by the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America (BPAA) and the United States Bowling Congress (USBC)

2019 PWBA SONOMA COUNTY OPEN
(At Double Decker Lanes, Rohnert Park, Calif.)
(All times local)
Thursday, May 30
4 p.m. – 90-minute practice session
7 p.m. – Bowl With The Pros
Friday, May 31
9 a.m. – Eight-game qualifying block
5 p.m. – Eight-game qualifying block
(Cut to top 32 players)
Saturday, June 1
9 a.m. – Round of 32 (eight games)
(Cut to top 12 players) 
2 p.m. – Round of 12 (six games)
(Cut to top four players for stepladder finals)
5:30 p.m. – Stepladder Finals live on BowlTV
7:30 p.m. – Bowl With The Pros

2019 PWBA SONOMA COUNTY REGIONAL
(At Double Decker Lanes, Rohnert Park, Calif.)
Sunday, June 2
(all times local)
9 a.m. – Eight-game qualifying block
(Cut to top four players for stepladder finals)
2 p.m. – Stepladder Finals live on BowlTV

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