USA wins first team gold since 1987 at WWC

HONG KONG – For the first time in nearly a quarter century, Team USA claimed the five-player team gold medal Saturday at the 2011 World Tenpin Bowling Association World Women’s Championships.

Team USA’s Kelly Kulick, Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, Shannon O’Keefe, Shannon Pluhowsky and Liz Johnson came out on top in the gold-medal match by defeating Singapore, 1,210-1,140, in the one-game match broadcast live on from Hong Kong Bowling City.

Johnson led the effort by starting with nine consecutive strikes and shooting a 279 game. She was followed by Pluhowsky (256), Kulick (244), O’Keefe (226) and Dorin-Ballard (205). Stefanie Nation did not compete in the championship match, but was a part of the semifinal win for the Americans, who last won the team event in 1987 and took the silver medal in 2005, 2007 and 2009.

The Singaporeans were led by Jazreel Tan’s 269 game and she was joined by Shayna Ng (240), Cherie Tan (224), New Hui Fen (214) and Daphne Tan (193).

“We have all worked so hard for this and this win is for every person who has been a part of the Team USA program over the past 24 years,” Johnson said. “We have had success all week with us winning the doubles and trios but this is the one we came for and we did it.”

Team USA trailed early in the championship match as Singapore got off to a hot start, but the Americans slowly chipped away at the lead. The match turned in the seventh frame when the United States began a string of 15 consecutive strikes as a team.

“All week we have struggled with our carry, so we just decided to be patient and thankfully the pin carry turned in our favor,” Dorin-Ballard said. “We were able to start putting pressure on them and that changed the whole momentum of the match. It was huge.”

In the semifinals, the fourth-seeded Americans took down top seed Germany, 1,080-970, while No. 2 seed Singapore defeated Colombia, 1,225-1,103. The semifinals losers shared the bronze medal.

The all-events competition also wrapped up Saturday as Denmark’s Mai Ginge Jensen took the gold medal with a 24-game total of 5,744, an average of 239.33. Canada’s Caroline Lagrange earned the silver with 5,687, while Pluhowsky took bronze with 5,607.

The top 16 players in the all-events standings advanced to Sunday’s match play Masters. Three Americans made the field – Pluhowsky, Johnson and Kulick. Dorin-Ballard missed the cut by one pin, while O’Keefe missed by 10 pins.

The 2011 World Women’s Championships features 171 bowlers from 33 countries. The teams are competing in six disciplines – doubles, trios, team, singles, all-events and match-play Masters.

Lucas Wiseman
USBC Communications