Reno NV. – For most of this season, Maria José Rodriguez of Colombia has had to play her “C-game”
By and large, she’s had a decent season, consistently cashing and making match play. But, Rodriguez said if she’s forced to do what Liz Johnson does best, it’s going to be hard for her to win.
“If I have to do my C-game, which I have to do every single tournament, I’m up there and will cash, but I won’t win or be up there,” Rodriguez said.”
Rodriguez has always loved to be aggressive with her hand, stand farther left and hook the ball. If she can do that at a tournament, the sky is the limit for the 2018 PWBA Tour Championship and 2014 USBC Queens winner.
“If I can do my A-game then boom, I’m a bowler again,” Rodriguez exclaimed. “Every tournament I have to do my “C” game, and then I don’t look like a professional bowler.”
Now, there is obviously something to be said for how important being versatile is, but most athletes, let alone bowlers, have something that they do best and it only helps them if the condition allows them to stay in their comfort zone.
So why has Rodriguez had to play her “C-game” all season?
“Because there’s no oil on the lanes. It’s as simple as that. We always have to use polish, always have to have the balls shiny and it hooks in front. It hooks in my backswing,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez has been able to play her A-game on the longer 43′ PWBA Pepsi Classic pattern. She can stand farther left, play a tighter angle and be more aggressive with her hand at the bottom of the swing.
After failing to make match play on the shorter 37′ pattern largely due to bad carry, according to her husband and ball rep from Motiv, Nathan Bohr, she’s turned her week around in the second of three tournaments at the season-ending Fall Classic series.
Rodriguez went 5-1 in match play and averaged 228.61 to take the tournament lead from Player of the Year frontrunner Dasha Kovalova, who only managed to win two of her six matches.
After losing her first match, she won the next five in a row, including a 269 with 30 bonus pins and a win over Kovalova in game four after throwing the back eight strikes in game three.
Bohr said Rodriguez didn’t change much about the way she was bowling the Reno Classic for the Pepsi Classic. Instead she stuck to the same mindset and something clicked.
Ball choice was key for her. Bohr said she threw a strong ball with a symmetrical core with a new pearl cover.
“It has given her the ability to be aggressive with her hand, and the ball keeps going through the pins.
Rodriguez also said she loves bowling at The National Bowling Stadium and she thinks the lanes play tighter, which allows her to play her A game more.
If she can play her A-game the rest of the way, she has a great shot to win her third career title and then make a run at her third career major and second Tour Championship.