Danielle McEwan Wins Second Title of 2021 PWBA Tour Season

by Aaron Smith, USBC Communications 0

Qualifying: Round 3 | Round 4
Stepladder Finals

SPOKANE, Wash. - Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, locked up her second title of the 2021 Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour season with a strike in her final frame Saturday at the PWBA Spokane Open.

The 29-year-old right-hander recorded her seventh career PWBA Tour title with a 203-192 victory over Liz Johnson of Niagara Falls, New York, at Lilac Lanes & Casino.

She claimed $10,000 for the victory, and the championship round was broadcast live on BowlTV.com.

McEwan needed a mark in the 10th frame to secure the win in the back-and-forth title match, and she delivered one of her best shots of the week.

The 10-time Team USA member started the month with a win at the Professional Bowlers Association/PWBA Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles event in Houston with EJ Tackett of Bluffton, Indiana.

"That shot is literally everything we practice and train for every day," McEwan said. "I knew exactly what I had to do, and I just cleared my mind and let my body do what it knows how to do. Thankfully, the pins fell."

McEwan, who entered the stepladder as the top seed, started the match against Johnson with a double and recorded spares in the third and fourth frames to build a slight advantage, but she missed a 10 pin in the fifth frame to hand over the lead to the 25-time PWBA Tour titlist and United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer.

Johnson wasn't able to capitalize on the miscue, however, allowing McEwan to showcase her resilience and recapture the lead with strikes in the seventh and eighth frames.

"I was really frustrated after missing that," McEwan said. "I actually missed a couple of them today and handed Liz an open on a stupid mistake. After that, I really had to buckle down to make sure it didn't cost me."

Johnson stayed clean during the title match, but she was unable to pair any strikes together, recording just three of them in the final.

Finishing the match first, Johnson could have doubled to force McEwan to throw two strikes of her own. Instead, Johnson left the 3-10 split on her first delivery.

McEwan felt her best look on this week's 45-foot oil pattern was on the fresh, and she parlayed her success early in blocks at Lilac Lanes & Casino to get to the top spot after 24 games of qualifying with a 5,204 total, a 216.83 average.

She was happy to take advantage of her qualifying position, too, as the opening match of Saturday's stepladder resulted in low scores and 10 open frames between Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey, and Ukraine's Dasha Kovalova.

Kulick advanced to the semifinal, 178-115.

"I actually was very concerned after our initial practice on that pair," McEwan said. "My best look had been on the fresh, and it kind of went away later in the block, but they were playing different, and I didn't have a good look. I was happy I wasn't bowling in the first match. I was able to sit back and watch what everyone else was doing and come up with a different game plan if needed.

"By the time we got to my match, it was definitely much better. It had blended out a little more. The lanes were still a little bit different from lane to lane, so that was tricky to figure out on the fly, but I just tried to make some really good shots to get a feel for what they were doing."

Johnson was awaiting Kulick as the No. 2 seed, and she advanced to the title match with a 238-192 victory over her fellow USBC Hall of Famer.

Johnson, who was looking for her second win in 2021 after defeating Kulick in the title match at the PWBA Lincoln Open in May, put together a string of five consecutive strikes in the middle of the game to roll to the final.

Kulick and Kovalova also were looking to add onto their win totals for the 2021 season.

Kulick, a seven-time PWBA Tour champion, won the PWBA Albany Open in June, while Kovalova captured wins at the PWBA Twin Cities Open in April and PWBA Louisville Open in June, bringing her number of career titles to four.

The 66-player field in Spokane bowled 12 games Friday, before the first cut to the top 32 athletes. Advancers bowled an additional six-game block Saturday morning, with the top 12 competing in a final six-game round to determine the four bowlers for the stepladder, based on 24-game pinfall totals.

The 2021 PWBA Tour season now will head to Double Decker Lanes in Rohnert Park, California, for the U.S. Women's Open, the second major championship of the year.

The U.S. Women's Open will take place Aug. 24-31 and feature a record-setting top prize for this year's champion. The winner will take home $100,000, along with the coveted green jacket.

The stepladder finals of the U.S. Women's Open will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network on Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. Eastern. All rounds leading up to the finals will be broadcast on BowlTV.

McEwan will enter the event as the defending champion after claiming the win in 2019 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. She captured her second major title with two strikes in her final frame to defeat Indonesia's Tannya Roumimper, 201-199.

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