MIDLOTHIAN, Va. – Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y., Rocio Restrepo of Louisville, Ohio, and Singapore’s New Hui Fen and Cherie Tan, advanced to the championship finals of the 2016 Smithfield Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour Championship on Saturday.
The live televised finals will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network on Sunday at 2 p.m. Eastern.
In the first semifinal, Johnson will face Tan, while New will square off against Restrepo, with the winners battling for the final major title of the season and the $20,000 top prize.
Johnson and Restrepo earned automatic slots onto the live televised finals as the top two players on the PWBA points list. New and Tan had to win three matches over the course of Friday and Saturday’s competition to advance to the finals.
Johnson, the reigning PWBA Player of the Year, kicked off the season with a win at the PWBA Las Vegas Open, and most recently claimed her fifth career U.S. Women’s Open title. If Johnson wins the PWBA Tour Championship, she will capture her second major of the season and back-to-back player of the year awards.
Restrepo is in the midst of a career year, capturing the Greater Detroit Open and St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open this season. Her most recent win catapulted her into the second spot on the PWBA points list and into the Player of the Year conversation. If Restrepo wins the Tour Championship, she will win the honor.
New, the No. 11 seed, will make her fourth championship-round appearance in just six events including the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open. She earned enough competition points in her five previous events to earn a spot in the Tour Championship, and put herself in contention for PWBA Rookie of the Year.
After defeating fellow rookie of the year contender Jennifer Higgins of Westerville, Ohio, on Friday 3-2, New had to win her second match to garner enough competition points to surpass Higgins. During Round 2 on Saturday, New defeated Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, 3-1, to claim the honor, then defeated Shannon O’Keefe of O’Fallon, Illinois, to earn a spot on the TV show.
“It’s great,” said New, who competes for Team Singapore. “It’s really surprising. But, I was working toward making the TV show because if you think about it that way it’s easier to win the Rookie of the Year. If I came here with the mindset thinking that I just have to win two matches and I’m done, then I’m really done. If I aim for the moon, I’ll land on the stars.”
Tan, the No. 16 seed, rolled the maximum amount of games during match play as all three of her matches went the full five games. Tan earned her spot in the Tour Championship after winning the PWBA Storm Sacramento Open earlier in the season, and like her Team Singapore teammate, she didn’t waste her opportunity.
Tan started competition on Friday by defeating Clara Guerrero of Pflugerville, Texas, 3-2, then knocked off Bryanna Cote of Red Rock, Arizona, 3-2, before defeating Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, 3-2.
“It’s an honor to come here and bowl with the top 16 women,” Tan said. “The field is great, it’s strong and I’m really honored to be part of the Tour Championship. It’s definitely great to be able to represent your country because not everyone can do that. To be able to represent Singapore for the last 10 years is an honor.”
PWBA members qualified for the Tour Championship by either winning a title during the 2016 season or earning enough competition points. All 2016 PWBA Tour champions (who were members at the time of their victory) received an automatic invitation to the Tour Championship, and the remainder of the 16-player field was filled out through the PWBA points list.
For more information on the PWBA, visit PWBA.com.