ARLINGTON, Texas - When Jordan Richard threw her first ball as a professional bowler at the 2018 United States Bowling Congress Queens, she didn’t know she was embarking on what would become one of the best rookie seasons in Professional Women’s Bowling Association history.
Richard, who is from Tecumseh, Michigan, missed the first three events of the PWBA Tour season because of commitments that included completing her collegiate career at Arkansas State. But the two-time National Tenpin Coaching Association Division I Player of the Year quickly showed she was ready to compete at the professional level.
She captured her first title in her fourth tournament and locked up the 2018 PWBA Rookie of the Year award at the final regular-season event of the year, the QubicaAMF PWBA Players Championship.
Richard is the second consecutive bowler to make the jump from college to professional and earn PWBA Rookie of the Year honors, joining Daria Pajak (2017), since the PWBA Tour resumed in 2015. Stefanie Johnson had more than a decade of experience on Team USA before earning rookie honors in 2015 while Singapore’s New Hui Fen, also a veteran in international competition, won the award in 2016.
So, how does Richard’s season compare to a few of the best seasons from past PWBA Rookie of the Year winners? Let’s look at some of Richard’s statistical season.
Titles (1): Greater Harrisburg Open
In just her fourth event as a professional, Richard captured her first career title at the Greater Harrisburg Open and became the ninth player in history to win a title in the same season as winning rookie of the year. The list includes Daria Pajak, New Hui Fen, Stefanie Johnson, Cara Honeychurch (2), Lisa Bishop, Liz Johnson, Wendy Macpherson and Anne Marie Duggan.
Honeychurch captured the PWBA Greater Orlando Classic and the Brunswick Women’s World Open in 2000. Duggan holds the distinction of being the first player to win a title in her first tournament as a professional, when she won her debut in 1983. Bishop joined Duggan in that category after winning the 1997 Clabber Girl Greater Terre Haute Open in her first event as a professional.
Macpherson won the U.S. Women’s Open in April of 1986 as an amateur prior to joining the PWBA Tour in August.
Average (217.21): In 2018, Richard was second to Erin McCarthy (217.86) in average after bowling 277 games across nine events. While Richard’s average is the all-time highest among award winners, Honeychurch posted a 215.18 average for 774 games in 2000 to lead the tour, and Liz Johnson’s 212.23 over 831 games in 1996 was ninth in average.
Cashes/events (9/9): The PWBA Tour is the highest level of competition with the best bowlers in the world competing on a weekly basis. This makes the fact Richard, as a rookie, cashed in each of her nine events an impressive feat. Singapore’s Joey Yeo, who competed in just two events, was the only other rookie to cash in every event they competed in 2018. Richard also advanced to the Round of 12 seven times.
Historically, there have been a few previous rookie-of-the-year winners with noteworthy cashing records: New Hui Fen 6/6 (2016), Stefanie Johnson 10/10 (2015), Kelly Kulick 19/23 (2001), Cara Honeychurch 21/22 (2000), Liz Johnson 19/20 (1996), Tammy Turner 18/19 (1994) and Kim Kearney 8/8 (1989).
Championship-round appearances (5): While Richard has at least one title, she’s had the opportunity to capture multiple championships in 2018. Richard was on a roll the final month of the season, qualifying for the TV finals of all four August events (four consecutive).
She finished fourth at the Pepsi PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open, third at the BowlerX.com PWBA Twin Cities Open, fifth at the Nationwide PWBA Columbus Open and fourth at the QubicaAMF PWBA Players Championship. She’ll still have a chance add to this streak if she can make the finals at the season-ending PWBA Tour Championship, being held in Richmond, Virignia, from Sept. 16-19.
While five is good, it still checks in below the nine championship-round appearances Kulick and Honeychurch each made during their respective rookie-of-the year campaigns in 2001 and 2000, and the six by Liz Johnson in 1996. Richard did tie Tammy Turner with five, while New Hui Fen (2016) and Stefanie Johnson (2015) each appeared in the championship round four times, respectively.
Richard will be the No. 6 seed at the PWBA Tour Championship and will face No. 15 Shannon Pluhowsky when competition begins Sept. 17 at Richmond Raceway. For a look at the Tour Championship bracket, click here. Don't forget to check out the PWBA social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
PWBA Rookie of the Year winners
2017 Daria Pajak
2016 New Hui Fen
2015 Stefanie Johnson
2002 Sabrina (Duncan) Rose
2001 Kelly Kulick
2000 Cara Honeychurch
1999 Tiffany Stanbrough
1998 Jody Ellis
1997 Lisa Bishop
1996 Liz Johnson
1995 Krissy Stewart
1994 Tammy Turner
1993 Kathy Edwards Zeilke
1992 Marianne DiRupo
1991 Kim Adler
1990 Debbie McMullen
1989 Kim (Terrell) Kearney
1988 Mary Martha Cerniglia
1987 Paula Drake
1986 Wendy Macpherson
1985 Dede Davidson
1984 Paula Vidad
1983 Anne Marie Duggan
1982 Carol Norman
1981 Cindy Mason