Sunday, August 25, 2019

2019 World Bowling Women's Championships: Day One

I had hoped and even planned to drive to Las Vegas Friday to watch all seven days of the 2019 World Bowling Women’s Championships competition taking place from August 24-30. I even reserved a room at South Point so I could be conveniently close to the action. That’s how enamored I’ve become with elite women’s bowling and with the powerhouse teams and top players competing.

But days before the tournament commenced, prudence dictated that I cancel my plans and settle for watching as much of the action as I could via live-streaming.

I don’t know why I thought the live-stream coverage would be good enough to allay a fair portion of my disappointment over not being able to attend the tournament, but I was quickly disabused of my optimism. The disillusionment began when I went to the Championships website at the scheduled starting time of the first event, singles, at 9 am Saturday, clicked on the link labeled “WATCH LIVE,” and repeatedly got the message “COMING SOON.” By 9:10, I figured that the bowling must have started and that I needed to look elsewhere for a functional link to the action, so I did what any reasonably knowledgeable bowling fan would do and checked out Jeff Richgels on Facebook. The chances are overwhelmingly good that he’ll know what’s happening and how you can see it online if it’s anywhere to be seen.

Thanks to Jeff, I found three camera feeds. But the wide-angle views afforded took some getting used to. For while I could see the competition occurring on several pairs at a time, it all had a kind of offputtingly distorted and distant look to it, and I couldn’t make out the scores displayed on the wall above the pins. Watching it might have been the next best thing to being there, but it was a far, far cry from being there, and it took me a while to settle into making the best of it. Worse still was the fact that of the three cameras operating, one or more of them often lost the feed for significant periods of time, preventing me from watching almost entire games of bowlers I really wanted to see.

Fortunately, one of my favorite lady bowlers, Team Singapore’s Bernice Lim, winner of the USBC Queens title in 2016, was on one of the live-streams, and she came right out of the chute striking her way to a first game of 245, which she followed up with a 247 en route to placing first in Squad 1 after the six games of qualifying with a total of 1354 for a 225.67 average. Team USA’s Liz Kuhlkin finished 12th at 1298 (216.33), and Jordan Richard finished in 29th place with a total of 1223 (203.83).

I was thrilled to see Team Malaysia’s fabulous Sin Li Jane on one of the live-streams for the first game of the second squad. And after she shot 248 her first game and 237 her second, I posted to Facebook that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she took the gold in singles and all-events. But a singles gold was not in the cards as she ended up in 22nd place in that squad with a total of 1269 (211.50).

As it turned out, the top four who qualified for the singles semifinals on Thursday and the top five finishers from both squads all came from the second squad. They were led by Team Korea’s Nayoung Lee who finished with a 289 for a total of 1410 (235.0). Second went to Sweden’s Sandra Andersson at 1401 (233.5). Third was none other than the amazing Shannon O’Keefe at 1392 (232.0). Shannon is arguably the best female bowler on the planet right now. She’s the reigning PWBA Player of the Year, has won a phenomenal four PWBA titles already this season coming off her victory last week in the PWBA Orlando Open, and appears to be at the top of her game physically and in possession of an indomitable will to pravail. It’s a real pleasure watching her compete so masterfully and with such a determined spirit. And rounding out the field of qualifiers to the semifinal round was Team USA’s great Danielle McEwan, the defending all-events champ from the 2017 World Bowling Women’s Championships. She totaled 1371 (228.5) and shot a clutch 242 her final game to edge out Colombia’s Maria Jose Rodriguez who totaled 1368 (228.0).

What I didn’t realize until nearly the end of the bowling yesterday was that only four players in the stellar international field of 176 advanced to the next round in singles and that they had only six games to do it. I guess it can’t be any other way in a one week tournament with so many events, but it sure seems like a shame to make women’s bowling’s equivalent of the Olympics an all-out sprint to the finish line.

Oh well, it is what it is. And what it is will keep me watching as much of the action as I can for the rest of the week. Coming up is qualifying for the doubles event, and I can’t wait to see how my favorite lady bowlers fare in that.

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