Shannon O'Keefe wins 2018 USBC Queens

RENO, Nev.
 - Shannon O'Keefe now has claimed the last two majors on the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour after winning the 2018 United States Bowling Congress Queens on Tuesday.

The 39-year-old right-hander from O'Fallon, Illinois, put the finishing touches on a dominating week at the National Bowling Stadium as she defeated Bryanna Coté of Red Rock, Arizona, in the title match, 221-189, to capture the coveted tiara awarded to the winner and $20,000 top prize. Coté, the top seed for Tuesday's stepladder finals, earned $11,000 for the runner-up finish.

The USBC Queens is a major on the PWBA Tour schedule, and Tuesday's championship round was broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.

O'Keefe grabbed the early advantage in the title tilt after Coté started with back-to-back splits. She opened the door for a brief moment after leaving the 4-6-7-10 split in the fifth frame.

"That was just a bad shot," said O'Keefe, a 14-time Team USA member. "I got really quick and came off my power step, and I tend to grab the ball when I do that. It was my miss the whole week. I knew I needed to keep my hand under it and really feel my power step. Bad shots happen and I'm not a machine, but what's important is how you bounce back from it. I had really great ball motion and trusted what I was seeing and the moves I had to make."

O'Keefe quickly bounced back with strikes in the sixth and seventh frames, and she seized the opportunity to seal the win after Coté missed a 7 pin in the eighth frame by striking on her final four shots.

"The biggest thing for me was staying patient and in the moment," O'Keefe said. "One of the things that makes Liz Johnson so great is when people give her an opportunity, she takes advantage of it, and I idolize her for that. I really tried to take my time in those pressure situations and trust my process to deliver a good shot without any regrets."

O'Keefe claimed her first major championship to conclude the 2017 PWBA Tour season at the PWBA Tour Championship. Her win at the Queens marked her second victory through four events in the 2018 season.

The eight-time PWBA Tour champion has her sights set on winning PWBA Player of the Year, but she knows she can't rest on the success she's found in the first quarter of the season to reach her goal.

"This doesn't even feel like real life, and maybe that's a good thing," said O'Keefe, who won the 2018 PWBA Sonoma County Open earlier this month. "I'm just staying so focused and not thinking of everything as a whole, and that's probably the space I need to stay in to push through the rest of the season. I need to keep pushing myself to be better because the girls out here are so good. I need to keep practicing, keep the workouts going and stay present and committed to every shot for the rest of the season."

Coté, a 32-year-old right-hander, went 6-0 in match play, to earn the top seed for the second consecutive week on the PWBA Tour. She led the way at last week's PWBA Fountain Valley Open but lost in the title match to Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, 215-182.

"I was pretty confident going in, and the ball just hooked much earlier than I expected to start," said Coté, the 2016 PWBA Lexington Open champion. "After that, I made some pretty good moves and kept it in play. To say I wasn't nervous would be a lie. I was bowling for a major title against a great competitor. I know things didn't go my way this week, like last week, but that's OK. I'm going to keep fighting to put myself in that position."

O'Keefe advanced to the title match by delivering eight strikes against USBC Hall of Famer and two-time Queens champion Liz Johnson of Palatine, Illinois, 247-224. Johnson was looking to join fellow hall of famers Mildred Ignizio (1967, 1970, 1971) and Wendy Macpherson (1988, 2000, 2003) as the event's only three-time champions.

Liz Johnson bested Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas, to advance to the semifinals, 232-212. Liz Johnson bounced back from an open in the third frame to roll strikes on six of her next seven shots, while Stefanie Johnson left four consecutive nine counts starting in the sixth frame.

In the opening round of the stepladder, Stefanie Johnson put together a late run of strikes to hold off Amanda Fry of Antelope, California, 200-172. Fry had the chance to win the match with a double in the 10th frame but left a 4-6-10 split on her first delivery.

A total of 191 bowlers from 14 countries competed in three five-game qualifying blocks over three days to determine the 63 players joining defending champion Diana Zavjalova of Latvia in the double-elimination match-play bracket.

Zavjalova, a two-time Queens champion, finished this year's event tied for 17th place.

Each bracket match leading up to the stepladder included three games, with total pinfall determining which player advanced.

All rounds of competition leading up to the stepladder finals were broadcast on Xtra Frame, the exclusive online bowling channel for the Professional Bowlers Association. To subscribe, visit XtraFrame.TV.

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