ARLINGTON, Texas – For several Professional Women’s Bowling Association members, this week’s QubicaAMF PWBA Players Championship in Plano, Texas, now will be the most important tour stop of the season.
Plano Super Bowl is the host center for this week’s QubicaAMF PWBA Players Championship, the third major of the season and the final stop in the race to qualify for season-ending PWBA Tour Championship.
Competition starts Thursday with the first of two qualifying rounds (nine games each), after which the field will be cut to the top 18 players for two rounds of match play to decide the five players for Saturday’s championship round.
CBS Sports Network will televise the stepladder finals live on Saturday at 5 p.m. Eastern.
BowlTV, the YouTube channel of the United States Bowling Congress, will provide live coverage of all preliminary rounds leading up to the live finals.
Liz Johnson of Palatine, Illinois, is the defending champion at the QubicaAMF PWBA Players Championship, and she won last season’s U.S. Women’s Open, which happened to take place at Plano Super Bowl.
The timing couldn’t be more perfect for Johnson, who is confident heading into another major after a scintillating performance at the Nationwide PWBA Columbus Open last weekend.
The reigning three-time PWBA Player of the Year averaged 245 across three matches to capture her 24th professional title and second win in the last four events. She won the Professional Bowlers Association/PWBA Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles event with EJ Tackett on July 29.
Johnson said she made a few changes before last week’s event, tweaking her release and staying more aggressive, and the victory was “a great confidence booster” heading into the PWBA Players Championship.
“I tried to keep it simple,” said Johnson, who started the championship match in Columbus with nine consecutive strikes on the way to a 278-202 win over top-seed Shannon Pluhowsky. “For the most part, I stayed out of trouble, had a couple of big games, got to the show and then made some good shots.”
While Johnson now is a lock to return to Richmond, the same can’t be said for those players on the bubble. Players qualify for the 16-player PWBA Tour Championship by winning a title, while the rest of the field is filled through the PWBA points list.
Entering the QubicaAMF PWBA Players Championship, 10 players have clinched spots by winning a title this season. There’s still much to be determined, as at least 12 players still have a chance to earn one of the final six spots.
England’s Verity Crawley currently holds the final spot for the PWBA Tour Championship. Although she’s made two stepladder finals, she said it has been a rollercoaster of a season, and she’s learned so much by questioning and reflecting each week.
But, she won’t be changing much about her approach as she looks to take care of business in Plano.
“If I compete well at the Players Championship, then it will be an added bonus to make it to the Tour Championship,” Crawley said. “My mindset going into the next event is to be me, play my game and just appreciate the fact that I get to bowl professionally in the United States. But, I will not give up until the last ball is thrown.”
On the other side of the bubble sits Colombia’s Clara Guerrero, who trails Crawley by the slim margin of 2,605 points for the final PWBA Tour Championship spot. Guerrero has some history with this week’s event, as she won her first PWBA title at the 2016 Go Bowling PWBA Players Championship at The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
It’s been an eventful and emotional season for Guerrero, who was forced to miss a couple of tour stops after sustaining a back injury at the Queens. She’s starting to feel like herself again, evidenced by a fourth-place finish in Columbus last week.
Guerrero admits it will be hard not to think about the Tour Championship this week, but knows her focus must be on the Players Championship.
“I know that if I focus on giving my best at this major, and have a great performance, it will help me make it to the Tour Championship,” said Guerrero, who resides in Pflugerville, Texas. “My goal this week is to perform as good as I can, give my best and stay present in every shot.
“If all of that is enough for me to make it to the Tour Championship, great, but I can’t control the results and other players’ performances. My goal is to finish this event with no regrets. I always walk into a bowling center with the desire to win, not to just do enough for a cut. I will approach this event with the same attitude.”
Visit PWBA.com for more information, including the PWBA points list, Tour Championship bracket, complete schedule, player biographies, and more, and follow the PWBA Tour on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
QUBICAAMF PWBA PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
At Plano Super Bowl, Plano, Texas
(All times local)
Wednesday, Aug. 22
3:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.: Official Practice
7 p.m.: Bowl with the Pros
Thursday, Aug. 23
9 a.m.: Qualifying Round 1 (nine games)
4 p.m.: Qualifying Round 2 (nine games)
Cut to top 18 players
Friday, Aug. 24
9 a.m.: Match Play Round 1 (nine games)
4 p.m.: Match Play Round 2 (nine games)
Cut to top five players for stepladder finals
Saturday, Aug. 25
10 a.m.: Bowl with the Pros
4 p.m.: Live CBS Sports Network stepladder finals