NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Shannon O'Keefe of O'Fallon, Illinois, needed every bit of the 56-game format at the 2015 Bowlmor AMF U.S. Women's Open, but she was able to track down defending champion Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, New York, to earn the top seed for Sunday's televised finals.
O'Keefe entered the final game of match play Saturday 67 pins behind Johnson and fired a 278 game, her best effort of the week, to move to the top spot in the standings with a 12,604 total, which included 30 bonus pins for each of her 17 wins in match play. She averaged nearly 216 through 32 games of qualifying and 24 games of match play this week.
The stepladder finals will be broadcast live on the CBS Sports Network on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern. The winner will take home a top prize of $50,000.
"I'm just really happy with how I threw the ball today and was able to make up ground," said O'Keefe, who finished second to Johnson at the 2007 U.S. Women's Open. "I don't look at the numbers a lot, and the few times I did, I threw some really bad shots, so I tried hard to just keep my head down and focus on repeating the good shots."
Johnson, who led for more than half the event, shot 191 in the position round but was able to hold onto the No. 2 seed. She finished the 56-game marathon with a 12,554 total and was followed by Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York (12,486), Singapore's Jazreel Tan (12,090) and three-time U.S. Women's Open champion Kelly Kulick of nearby Union, New Jersey (11,986).
O'Keefe has five previous top-10 finishes at the U.S. Women's Open since 2007, but this is the first time she's earned the No. 1 seed in a traditional stepladder format. She also recently picked up her first standard Professional Women's Bowling Association title at the PBA/PWBA Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles with Bill O'Neill.
The 11-time Team USA member will draw on those experiences, along with what she learned this week, as she prepares to bowl one game for her first major victory.
"It's a little bit different this time, but it really just boils down to 10 good shots," O'Keefe said. "I have to have trust in what got me here and keep the focus I had all week."
With a victory, Johnson would join Kulick as the only bowlers to win the U.S. Women's Open and USBC Queens in the same year. Kulick accomplished the feat in 2010.
A fourth green jacket this week also would move Johnson, a 2015 USBC Hall of Fame inductee, or Kulick, into second place on the event's all-time win list, behind USBC Hall of Famer Marion Ladewig, who hoisted the trophy eight times.
All competitors at the 2015 U.S. Women's Open bowled 24 games over three days, while the top third of the field had eight more games to fight for a spot in the top 24, who advanced for 24 games of round-robin match play.
This week's tournament is the final open event of the 2015 PWBA Tour schedule.
All qualifying and match-play rounds were broadcast live on Xtra Frame. For subscription information, visit XtraFrame.TV.
Bowlmor AMF, the largest operator of bowling centers in the world, is hosting and providing television sponsorship of more than $250,000 for the U.S. Women's Open and the 2015 Bowlmor AMF U.S. Open, which will be held at AMF Garland Lanes in suburban Dallas/Fort Worth from Nov. 2-8.