Dayton bowler makes a run at U.S. Open title

Bright lights and big prize fund – Dayton bowler Shannon Pluhowsky was in the running for the title at the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open.

After five days, four oil patterns and 56 games, Pluhowsky, 39, was seeded third with 11,950 – behind eventual champion Josie Barnes (12,003) and second-seeded Cherie Tan, of Singapore, with 11,998 – for the televised finals on CBS Sports Network on Tuesday. The international field, with bowlers representing 15 countries, was down to just five competitors.

Pluhowsky was in the hunt for her second major title and first in more than a decade after winning the Queens in 2006. She was runner-up to Liz Johnson in the U.S. Women’s Open in 2016.

The Dayton bowler started strong at Double Decker Lanes in California, kicking off her seventh championship-round appearance at a major in a major way, rolling 10 strikes in a 279-211 victory over 2021 PWBA Tour Rookie of the Year front-runner Stephanie Zavala of California. Zavala posted two PWBA Tour titles in her rookie season.

“I was feeling good after the Zavala match,” Pluhowsky said. “But it’s the U.S. Open and things change quickly.”

Strikes were in short supply in the next round as Pluhowsky faced Cherie Tan, of Singapore, in the semifinals. The two left-handers tallied a total of three strikes in the match with Tan rolling two of them.

“The lanes got a little tighter and I am sure adrenaline was flowing more and so my speed increased slightly as well,” Pluhowsky said.

Tan converted the 2-4-7 in her final frame to edge out Pluhowsky, 178-166. The Singapore bowler’s run ended in the finals as top-seeded Barnes claimed the biggest check ever awarded in a professional women’s bowling event – $100,000 – with a four-pin advantage. The 33-year-old right-hander edged out Tan, 198-194, to claim her first major championship and fourth PWBA title.

“I was happy with the week overall and will learn from Game 2 after Cherie,” Pluhowsky said.

Success on the national stage is nothing new for Miami Valley bowlers as Springfield native Chris Via won the U.S. Open in April, one of five majors on the PBA Tour.

“The U.S. Open is the tournament that everyone wants to win, it’s the most prestigious tournament and historically the hardest to win,” Via said. “It’s a long and grueling format with multiple oil patterns. It’s a mental and physical grind where the best that week, rise to the top. To be able to be known as a U.S. Open Champion for the rest of my life, it’s my greatest accomplishment to date.”

Pluhowsky agrees wholeheartedly about the prestige of the U.S. Open.

“It’s at the top of the list,” she said. “There is nothing like the green jacket.”

U.S. Women’s Open Final Standings 1. Josie Barnes, Hermitage, Tenn. 2. Cherie Tan, Singapore 3. Shannon Pluhowsky, Dayton, Ohio 4. Stephanie Zavala, Downey, Calif. 5. Diana Zavjalova, Latvia

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