SOUTH GLENS FALLS — Erin McCarthy joined an exclusive club by taking a chance during the stepladder finals of the U.S. Women’s Open Tuesday night at Kingpin’s Alley Family Fun Center.
McCarthy, 31, from Elkhorn, Nebraska, made a big ball change from her Motiv Pride to a Supra and then ran the table as the fifth seed, winning four matches en route to her first major championship. The now two-time PWBA champion defeated top-seeded Danielle McEwan of Stony Point 212-172 in the championship match. She earned $60,000, while McEwan took home $30,000.
McCarthy started the championship game with three strikes, left the 4-6-7-10 split in the fourth frame but then added two more strikes to basically lock up the title. McEwan struck in the first frame but the lanes changed quickly for her, and she was never able to find the right ball or line.
“I don’t have the words to describe how I feel right now,” said McCarthy, who is planning to spend some of that big check on some new sneakers. “I made the switch to the Supra. You have to take a chance sometimes if you want to reach the top. The Supra was a much cleaner ball for me, and it got down the lane where I needed it to.”
McCarthy had several key moments in her four victories, but none was bigger than the second game against 15-time champion Shannon O’Keefe. After defeating Shayna Ng 212-178 by rolling five strikes to close out the game, it appeared her run was over. O’Keefe needed two strikes and eight pins to close out McCarthy in their game. O’Keefe got the two strikes, but then left a 3-4-7-9-10 split, losing 220-218.
“I was looking at the ground — which I always do — when Shannon got up to bowl,” McCarthy said. “I couldn’t believe it when I looked up to see that she left a split on her last ball. I thought I lost that game.”
McCarthy then ran a string of six strikes to close out the semifinal game 235-206 against Jordan Richard, a former PWBA Rookie of the Year and two-time champion.
Then it was on to the finals against McEwan. McCarthy kept her cool the entire four games, and although she was ecstatic, she looked tired.
“It was definitely a tough week,” she said. “We bowled 56 games, plus four more tonight. It was a grueling test. What I feel now is beyond words. This is definitely the biggest moment of my life. I’m never going to forget this.”
McCarthy said she made a conscious effort to control her emotions during the entire stepladder finals.
“I forced myself to slow down and control my footwork. I also controlled my breathing, and that helped me,” she said. “I may have looked calm, but my heart was pounding. It’s hard to describe, but I almost felt numb the entire night. This is the most prestigious tournament we have on our tour, and I’m so happy to win this.”
McEwan, a 7-time champion who has the only bowler in the finals to have won the U.S. Women’s Open before, needed some time to collect herself after failing to figure out the championship pair.
“The biggest problem with being the No. 1 seed is that you don’t know how the lanes are playing,” she said while fighting back tears. “You only get a couple of practice shots. I tried five different balls, and none of them worked. I feel lots of disappointment right now.”
The pattern for the stepladder finals was 38 feet of low-volume oil. The middle of the lanes didn’t have much of a hold area. All the finalists played between the third and fourth arrows on the lane, and they tried not to hook the ball too much. Only McCarthy figure out the best ball, line and speed to play all night.
Richard was third and cashed for $22,000. O’Keefe earned $17,000, and Ng won $13,000 out of a prize fund of more than $253,000. Ninety-one players began the week. Thirty made it to the cashers’ round, and 24 advanced to the three rounds of match play.
The PWBA Tour is idle until the PBA/PWBA Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles July 28-31 at Copperfield Bowl in Houston
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