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More About League Bowling
This is the second part of the original article (Bowling League Organization and Rules, May 8, 2010). That article covered league certification, lanes and competition format, practice session, and league organization. This one will discuss average and handicap computation, wins/losses, and prizes.
KELLY KULICK's Four Consecutive Major Titles Ranks
Among Greatest Feats in Bowling History
New Jersey native continues to re-write women’s bowling history with U.S. Women’s Open victory
SEATTLE, Wash. (May 14, 2010) – In a span of less than nine months, capped by her victory in the United States Bowling Congress’ U.S. Women’s Open Wednesday night, Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., has put together the most amazing string of titles in women’s professional bowling history.
By defeating top qualifier Liz Johnson, 233-203, to win the U.S. Women’s Open in Arlington, Texas, Kulick became the first woman to win two of the sport’s most prestigious titles in the same year – and the only player in professional bowling history to win four consecutive major championships.
Fifteen days earlier, she won her second USBC Queens title in El Paso, Texas. On Sept. 5, 2009, Kulick won the inaugural PBA Women’s World Championship in Allen Park, Mich., and on Jan. 24, she claimed her biggest title of all, defeating 63 Professional Bowlers Association male champions to win the PBA Tournament of Champions for the first PBA Tour title ever won by a woman.
Winning three consecutive women’s major titles plus the PBA Tournament of Champions in less than a year is a “grand slam” of major championships that will probably never be equaled. The only comparable feat in PBA history is Norm Duke’s string of three consecutive major titles (Denny’s PBA World Championship, U.S. Open and PBA World Championship) over an eight-month span in 2009.
In the annals of women’s professional bowling, signature seasons included 1988 when Lisa Wagner won five titles and became the first woman bowler to earn $100,000 in a single season; 1997 when Wendy Macpherson won four titles and set the all-time women’s earnings record of $165,425, and 2001 when Carolyn Dorin-Ballard won a record seven PWBA titles. But no woman has come close to Kulick’s streak.
In addition to the majors, Kulick also won the 2009 PBA Women’s Shark Championship in Allen Park over Labor Day weekend. In her last five consecutive television appearances – against men as well as women – Kulick has a 10-0 record in head-to-head matches, and she has earned $110,000 in those five events alone.
None of the above includes a mid-summer side trip to Asia where she won the Malaysian Open, or earnings in six other PBA Women’s Series events last season.
Kulick’s most recent accomplishments aren’t the first time she has made gender-busting history. In 2006, she finished sixth in the PBA Tour Trials to become the first woman in history to earn the right to bowl full-time on male-dominated national tour. She also won a PBA East Region title that year, joining Liz Johnson as the second woman to win a PBA regional title.
Ironically, Kulick never set out to prove women can compete with men in bowling. That reality came about out of necessity. After four years as a Collegiate All-American at Morehead (Ky.) State University, and three years gaining international experience as a member of Team USA, Kulick decided it was time to test her skills on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association where she earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2001.
She was competitive on the women’s pro tour, but it took two years before she broke through and won her first title – the 2003 Women’s U.S. Open. The elation of that victory faded quickly, however, because it was the last event the PWBA ever conducted. The women’s tour ceased operations weeks later.
The only hope Kulick and other top-caliber women bowlers had at that point was to bowl wherever they could find opportunities. When the PBA opened its membership to women in 2004, Kulick and a handful of her female friends stepped up to the PBA challenge.
For Kulick, the culmination was the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions. As winner of the inaugural PBA Women’s World Championship, she earned the right to become the only woman to ever bowl in the TOC and she stunned the sports world by topped a field of 63 male PBA champions to win one of the PBA’s most prestigious titles. Kulick confided afterward that she always believed she could be the first woman to win a PBA title – but she never imagined it would be THAT title.
The TOC victory also meant Kulick has earned a two-year exemption to return to full-time competition as the only woman bowling on the PBA Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour, beginning with the PBA World Series of Bowling this fall.
If anyone thought Kulick’s Tournament of Champions victory was a fluke, she has dispelled any doubts with her ongoing string of successes.
“It all started at the Queens last year when I finished second to Liz,” Kulick said. “Since then, it’s been one big snowball rolling down the hill and getting bigger and bigger. It has been magical.
“I can’t believe I now have eight titles – and six of them are majors. I’m not sure why. I think the longer formats suit me,” she continued. “But believe it or not, I think I’ve still got room to improve. I want to learn more about equipment and lane play. I’m going to continue to bowling at least four days a week to work on improving my repetition.”
Kulick isn’t sitting around, admiring her new collection of trophies. She is taking nothing for granted as she awaits her second season as the only full-time “exempt” woman on the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour. Kulick remembers her first excursion as a full-time PBA Tour player bowling against the guys during the 2006-07 season. A best finish of 22nd place would have been forgettable for most people, but for Kulick, it was a year-long lesson in what she needed to do to become a better player.
When she returns to the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour as an exempt player next fall, she plans to be as ready as she can be.
Personal success is one thing, but it isn’t the only thing Kelly Kulick thinks about. In the wake of her historic Tournament of Champions victory, Kulick made a series of national television appearances, received a page of coverage in Sports Illustrated and an unprecedented endorsement from nationally-acclaimed sports writer Rick Reilly in ESPN the Magazine. She was even invited to visit the White House for a special tribute to America’s women pioneers.
All of the newfound success could have gone to Kulick’s head, but while she appreciates the attention, Kulick understands she represents a unique opportunity for women in bowling. She has initiated a strict physical conditioning regimen to improve her strength and endurance. She is accepting every media opportunity she can manage, but it isn’t just about selling herself.
“I just hope what I’ve been able to do will draw some attention to women’s bowling,” Kulick said. “If I can help make that happen, that’s what is important to me.”
While she awaits the arrival of the PBA Tour in the fall, Kulick’s calendar is filling rapidly. She is planning to attend a series of summer trade shows, including International Bowl Expo in Las Vegas, June 27-July 1, where she will spend some in the PBA exhibit as well as working for her bowling ball sponsor, Ebonite International. She’s making a late May trip to Japan; teaching at a series of Dick Ritger Bowling Camps, and conducting a clinic at Bowlero Lanes in suburban Tacoma, Wash., where she also will compete in a PBA Northwest Region tournament, June 4-6.
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