ROHNERT PARK, Calif. – Shannon O’Keefe of O’Fallon, Illinois, came into the week with fond memories of Double Decker Lanes, and she will leave with one more after capturing the 2018 Professional Women’s Bowling Association Sonoma County Open.
In a title match for the ages, O’Keefe, the No. 4 seed, defeated top seed Verity Crawley of England, 268-266, on Saturday. The stepladder finals were streamed live on Xtra Frame, the Professional Bowlers Association’s online bowling channel.
The championship match began in a flurry with both players combining for 15 out of 16 strikes through eight frames, with O’Keefe owning the only non-strike when she spared in the first frame.
Crawley left the 1-3-6 combination in the ninth frame to end her run at perfection, giving O’Keefe the opportunity to lock up her seventh career PWBA Tour title if she could throw strikes in the ninth and the first shot in the 10th frame along with an eight count spare in the final stanza.
O’Keefe struck in the ninth but left a 10 pin on her first shot in the final frame. She made the spare and filled nine pins on her final offering.
Crawley, who finished second at the 2017 PWBA Fountain Valley Open and 2017 PWBA Greater Detroit Open, would have the chance to win her first PWBA Tour title if she could double in the 10th frame. She left a 7 pin on her first shot, giving O’Keefe her second Sonoma County Open title in three seasons.
The range of emotions were significant for O’Keefe during the title match, but being able to manage them were key.
“There were some moments in the match where I needed to take a really deep breath,” O’Keefe said. “I’d throw a strike, which followed her strikes, and knew I was staying right in it. I knew I just needed to calm myself down and really try to control what I could control and stay in the moment. However it was going to end, I told myself I’d be happy with it.”
With the win, O’Keefe now has claimed at least one win in each season since the relaunch of the PWBA Tour in 2015. Her success was nothing more than a dream just a few years ago.
“This is something that I dreamed of back on the old PWBA Tour but definitely was not refined to where am I now,” O’Keefe said. “When the relaunch happened, I was so excited to be able to get out here and compete at this level week in and week out. Really, all we had was Team USA for the last decade, and I’m so grateful and blessed to be apart of that. But, I wanted more. So, to see how it’s just snowballing from year to year is just incredible, and I feel so blessed.”
The win for O’Keefe was extra special because of the family’s recent loss of their 13-year-old dog, Cola. She was an important part of the O’Keefe family, and she may have given O’Keefe the extra help she needed to take home the title.
“She was my baby,” said O’Keefe, while holding back tears. “She owned Mommy and everyone knew it. Everybody who would stay at the house would always say she was completely different when I was home than when I was gone. It was really hard. I feel like I lost a piece of me. Anytime this week was tough, or I threw a bad shot, I just thought of doing it for Cola. I thought Verity was going to double for sure in the 10th and when she didn’t, Bryan (O’Keefe) looked right at me and said, ‘That was Cola Bear,’ and I just lost it. This one’s for her.”
O’Keefe advanced to the title match after defeating last week’s PWBA Las Vegas Open champion, Shayna Ng of Singapore, 214-186. Ng was looking to win the first two titles of the 2018 season.
In the opening match, O’Keefe downed Sweden’s Ida Andersson, 226-160. Andersson was looking for her first PWBA title.
O’Keefe made a late charge to the stepladder finals during Saturday’s Round of 12, where she jumped from 10th to fourth in the standings on the strength of a 276 effort in Game 5 of the six-game block.
Competition this week at the PWBA Sonoma County Open at Double Decker Lanes included two eight-game qualifying blocks on Friday to determine the 32 players for Saturday's Round of 32. An additional eight-game block Saturday morning narrowed the field to 12 players, who bowled six additional games to determine the stepladder finalists.
The 2018 PWBA Tour season continues next week with the PWBA Fountain Valley Open at Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley, California.
Qualifying and match-play rounds of PWBA Tour events are broadcast on Xtra Frame, which also will be the livestream home for the stepladder finals of seven standard events.