Team USA women, Japan men top seeds for trios at 2017 World Bowling Championships


After a slow start to the week, the Team USA women are gaining momentum at the 2017 World Bowling Championships, and Danielle McEwan, Kelly Kulick and Shannon O'Keefe now have a second chance at a gold medal, this time as the top qualifiers in the trios event.

The three, all bronze medalists in doubles earlier in the tournament, averaged more than 212 across the six games of trios qualifying Wednesday and Thursday at the South Point Bowling Plaza, shooting the same score both days - 1,910 - to earn the top seed for the trios semifinals with a 3,820 total.

They will face Putty Armein, Sharon Limansantoso and Tannya Roumimper of Indonesia, who qualified fourth with a 3,704 total. The other women's semifinal will feature No. 2 Germany (Janine Gabel, Tina Hulsch and Patricia Luoto) and No. 3 Chinese Taipei (Su Shu-Wen, Pan Yu-Fen, Chou Chia-Chen), who finished with 3,785 and 3,721, respectively.

"After singles, it wasn't looking good, and we were all very confused and lost, but that's the strength of our team having the best coaches and great players, who can communicate very well and figure it out," said McEwan, who teamed with Kulick in doubles. "Overall as a team, every day is getting better and better. We're seeing the lanes better and making better ball changes, and we're going to keep improving."

Both the men's and women's semifinals and finals will take place Sunday, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Eastern, as part of two days of live coverage on the Olympic Channel.

The two semifinal winners in each division will bowl for the trios gold medals, and the semifinal losers each will receive bronze medals.

The men's semifinals will feature Japan, Hong Kong, Finland and Chinese Taipei.

Japan (Daisuke Yoshida, Shogo Wada and Shusaku Asato) earned the top seed with a 3,868 total and will face Chinese Taipei (Chen Wu-Chi, Xu Zhe-Jia, Wu Hao-Ming), the No. 4 qualifier with 3,757.

No. 2 Hong Kong (Eric Tseng, Wu Siu Hong, Michael Mak) finished with a 3,808 total and will face No. 3 Finland (Joonas Jahi, Petteri Salonen, Niko Oksanen), which posted a 3,784 total.

The Team USA men fell short in trios, finishing tied for sixth (Jakob Butturff, AJ Johnson, Chris Via) with 3,720 and 32nd (Chris Barnes, Tommy Jones and Marshall Kent) with 3,525. Barnes and Jones claimed the doubles gold medal Tuesday.

The 39-foot Beijing oil pattern being used this week at the Bowling Plaza has been a challenging puzzle for the Team USA bowlers, who have been working each day to put all the pieces together, which means constantly changing balls or surfaces, hand positions or angles on the lane.

O'Keefe admitted she didn't see things quite so clearly in Thursday's second round of trios qualifying, but her teammates were there to pick her up and keep her motivated. She said she felt great physically but still is searching to find the right ball or surface to help her be consistently successful.

"I didn't have to stress today that I wasn't stringing strikes because I have unbelievable teammates who held me up," said O'Keefe, who reached the doubles semifinals Tuesday with Josie Barnes. "That made today a little easier. I still was frustrated that I couldn't string them together, because I'm a competitor and that's what we do, but it's so nice to have teammates that are there to pick you up and not judge you. You're free to play, and it's safe, and that was the best part of today."

McEwan set the pace in trios for the United States with 1,321, Kulick added 1,312 and O'Keefe had 1,187.

Team USA's other set for women's trios - Stefanie Johnson (1,295), Shannon Pluhowsky (1,164) and Barnes (1,156) - finished 11th with a 3,615 total.

Competition now shifts to the coveted team event Friday and Saturday, beginning at noon Eastern each day. After six games over two days, the top four men's teams and top four women's teams will advance to Sunday's semifinals.

The men's and women's team semifinals will take place simultaneously Sunday, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

Following the six team games, the all-events medalists (gold, silver and bronze) in each division will be determined based on their 24-game pinfall totals from singles, doubles, trios and team.

The top 24 men and top 24 women in the all-events standings will advance to Masters match play Monday.

Wu Hao-Ming of Chinese Taipei tops the all-events standings on the men's side after 18 games with a 3,930 total, a 218.33 average. Johnson of the United States is second with 3,844, and Finland's Salonen is third with 3,836.

Team USA's Jones also is among the top 24 (15th), while Kent (T27th), Barnes (41st), Butturff (T47th) and Via (87th), will have some work to do during the final block.

McEwan leads on the women's side with an 18-game total of 3,817, a 212.06 average. She is followed by Korea's Kim Moon Jeong (3,792) and Denmark's Mai Ginge Jensen (3,781).

Team USA's Kulick is fifth with 3,731, but the rest of the players from the United States are outside of the top 24 - Johnson (26th), Barnes (T31st), Pluhowsky (T60th) and O'Keefe (T72nd).

The 2017 World Championships will run until Dec. 4. The final two days of competition will be broadcast live on the Olympic Channel to a worldwide audience.

This year's tournament is a combined men's and women's event, which happens every four years. The 2013 World Championships at nearby Sunset Station in Henderson, Nevada, also was a combined event.

The field includes 213 men from 36 countries and 176 women from 30 countries.

Countries participating this year in Las Vegas include: Aruba, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, England, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States, Ukraine, Venezuela and Wales.

For more information on the 2017 World Championships, visit