EAGAN, Minn. - As the 2018 Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour season begins to wind down, many players are crunching numbers as they look to claim one of the final spots in the season-ending PWBA Tour Championship.
While only 16 players will make it to Richmond Raceway for the final major of the season, taking place Sept. 16-19 in Richmond, Virginia, competitors still are looking to finish the year on a strong note and take away as much as they can from the experience.
As a tour rookie, Mexico's Pamela Alvarez is enjoying the chance to learn more about herself and her game each week, and she's been able to turn those learning moments into success. For the second consecutive week, she qualified for a PWBA Tour Elite event through the pre-tournament qualifier (PTQ).
The 26-year-old right-hander posted a 1,684 eight-game total Thursday at Cedarvale Lanes to earn her spot in the 32-player field for the BowlerX.com PWBA Twin Cities Open. Elite events feature the top 24 players in points (after the U.S. Women's Open), with the final spots determined through a PTQ.
Last week, Alvarez advanced through the PTQ to make the Pepsi PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open field in Seminole, Florida, and went on to finish in 26th place.
"I was hesitating to bowl the elite events, but I had an opportunity to bowl the first one," said Alvarez, who's been a part of Mexico's national team as a youth and adult since 2006. "I bowled well, and that really helped my confidence. So, I'm just going to try and continue to bowl well and do what I love."
Alvarez put together her best finish to date early in 2018, placing 18th at the PWBA Sonoma County Open. She admits there's been a learning curve compared to competing with Team Mexico, but it's also given her the chance to examine her game and become stronger.
"It's always an honor to represent your country, but this experience has been different for me," said Alvarez, who helped Mexico win a gold medal in trios at the 2011 Pan American Bowling Confederation Youth Championships. "When I'm competing for Mexico, I have my coaches and teammates behind me, and now, it's all on me. I've been learning a lot, getting to know more about myself and my game."
That trust in herself helped her make the right moves after a slow start Thursday in the PTQ, averaging more than 216 a game after a 169 start, to finish third overall in the 48-player field.
Alvarez struggled to start competition Friday during the first eight-game qualifying block, but she knows each experience gives her the opportunity to continue the learning process. The second round of qualifying takes place Friday starting at 6 p.m. Eastern and will be streamed live on BowlTV.
"I just want to finish this season strong," Alvarez said. "I struggled at the beginning of the year, but I've been having fun and learning, and that's the most important thing - learning and gaining experience. My goal is to finish as strong as I can, and I know I can do that. I want to set my mind to getting stronger every stop."
Alvarez is one of three players to qualify through each of the elite-field PTQs through the PWBA Twin Cities Open. Summer Jasmin of Beckley, West Virginia, and Jodi Woessner of Oregon, Ohio, also have made their way into the main event through qualifying.
The third and final elite event will take place next week at the Nationwide PWBA Columbus Open, which will be held at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl in Columbus, Ohio from Aug. 16-18.