The PWBA Tour Season is Back! Last week, started the season off at Double Decker Lanes in Rohnert Park, Calif. for the QubicaAMF PWBA Sonoma County Open.
Needing to arrive a couple of days early prior to the start of the event due to two special media training sessions, I stayed one night with friend and Hall of Famer Vesma Grinfelds in San Francisco. It’s always nice to visit friends and see this amazing City.
Our first week back, we bowled on a grueling 40’ flat pattern, meaning the lanes are oiled straight across exactly the same, creating no room for error. This puts a premium on shot making and picking up spares.
The format for this event featured two 6-game blocks of qualifying on Saturday. The field was then cut to the top 32 for the casher’s round, in which we then bowled 6 more games of qualifying before cutting to the top 12 for matchplay.
I decided to attack the pattern different than most the first block. I stayed far to the right, pointing the ball to the pocket using my Track Mako, but had a rough start shooting only 169. I then switched to my Track Heat Xtreme playing the same angle shooting 223. Game 3, I again switched balls to my Game Breaker 2 Phenom Pearl shooting 172 and then decided to go old school using my Black Hammer urethane for the duration of the squad shooting 217, 210 and 185 for -24 overall. With scores being very low, and +86 leading the squad, -24 put me in 14th place going into the second block of qualifying.
I changed my strategy for the 2nd block, as there was no re-oil in between blocks this week. I used my trusty Orange Eruption Pro and played far inside with speed and giving the ball a little room and shot games of 248, 186, 223, 245, 175 and 208 for +85 on the night and +61 overall which moved me up into 3rd place, with only 4 people in the entire field plus. It took -172 to make it to the top 32 casher’s round.
The next day, I again played the lanes different. I played inside with speed, a little loft and a more direct line. I used my Game Breaker 2 Phenom to shoot 194 and then switched to my Game Breaker 2 Phenom Pearl and shot 180, 214, 190, 228 and 222 for +28 on the block and +89 overall, which kept me in 3rd place going into match play.
Matchplay is unique in the sense that bowlers get split up into two different brackets – even numbered positions (2,4,6,8 10, and 12) and odd numbered positions (1,3,5,7,9,11). We then bowl 6 games of round robin matchplay against players in our respective backets only, with a 30 pin bonus granted for each win. The top bowler in each bracket automatically advances to the TV show. Then the No. 2, 3 and 4 seeds in each bracket bowl a stepladder final (3 vs 4 and the winner bowls 2) with the overall winner of each bracket also advancing to the TV show to composite the top 4.
I had a bit of a rough time in macthplay as I was bowling very well, but couldn’t seem to win enough matches. In my first match, I faced Brandi Branka and shot 221 to lose to her 237. I won my next two matches shooting 221 and 217. Game 4 was crucial. I was catching up to the leader. I could strike out for 224 but only needed a mark in the 10th frame to win my match. I threw a great shot and left an unlucky pocket 8, 10 to lose the 30 bonus pins and only shot 193. Going into game 5, only 7 pins separated the top 3. My look started going away in the worst possible time since I was bowling against top seed Diana Zavjalova. I left another pocket 8, 10 as well as a pocket 7, 10 to lose by 10 pins - 182 to her 192. This dropped me down into 3rd place going into position round.
I had a chance to still earn the top seed and a spot on the TV show. If Diana won the match against Brandi Branka, I needed to win my match and beat Diana by 46 pins. If Brandi won the match against Diana, I needed to win my match and beat Brandi by 7 pins. Unfortunately, I was stuck on the same pair that I had just bowled on against Diana. I still coulndn’t seem to figure out the lanes and only shot 166 losing the match.
Brandi Branka ended up striking out in the 10th frame to defeat Diana Z for the top seed in our bracket. This put Diana is 2nd place for the stepladder finals, I was 3rd place and Maria Jose Rodriguez was 4th place. I would face Maria in match 1.
The stepladder finals were bowled on fresh oil and not having the greateset look on fresh, I decided to try a different bowling ball to start the match. This looked promising in practice, but then quickly went away as I struggled the entire match shooting my lowest game of the tournament – 152 to Maria’s 206. Maria went on to defeat Diana Z 187-181 to earn the other spot on the TV show.
In the other bracket, Rocio Restrepo earned the overall top seed on the TV show. With Shannon Pluhowsky winning in the stepladder final against amateur Karen Rosprim to earn the final spot on the TV show.
|TV show finalists - Maria Jose Rodriguez 4th, Shannon Pluhowsky 3rd, Brandi Branka 2nd and Rocio Restrepo 1st|
This week was definitely a great start to the season, but bittersweet for it to end the way it did. It was by far the most difficult pattern I have ever bowled on. I averaged 203.71 and the highest average was 205.5 with only 5 players averaging over 200. Great week, but definitely more motiviation for next week in Sacramento for the PWBA Storm Sacramento Open! Until then…
Bowling photos courtesy of Kimberly Power. Thanks for the amazing shots!!!