BATON ROUGE, La. – Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., captured her first Professional Women’s Bowling Association title since the relaunch of the PWBA Tour by winning the 2017 PWBA Fountain Valley Open.
Kulick, a six-time major champion and the event’s top seed, defeated rookie of the year candidate Verity Crawley of England, 224-218, in the title match. The stepladder finals aired nationally on CBS Sports Network on Tuesday.
The moment was almost more of the same for Kulick as she traded strings of strikes with Crawley late in the championship match, and had a chance to shut out Crawley in the final frame. But Kulick spared in the 10th, followed with a strike on the final offering, to leave Crawley with the opportunity to win her first career title.
Needing a double in the 10th frame to secure a victory, Crawley left a 3-6-10 on the first shot to give Kulick her first title in 11 championship-round appearances of PWBA events since 2015.
Amidst personal and physical trials during the last two seasons, Kulick still was able to put herself in position for a title but had been unable to find the winner’s circle. She battled an ankle injury during the second half of last season, and endured the death of her mother, too.
Words simply couldn’t describe the feeling for Kulick after climbing a mountain to what was such an elusive victory.
“I’m speechless,” Kulick said. “Words can’t describe it because she (Crawley) had a chance to shut me out and I caught some really good breaks. It’s not a hump I got over, it was a mountain. I give myself credit for making so many shows and being one of the consistent players out here on tour. Everyone looks at wins, and even though I didn’t win, I still considered myself a winner because I know what it takes to win.
“I grinded out today, didn’t make quality shots but I left makeable spares. It was a win for myself and it was a win for my family because of the emotional things we’ve been going through and having to deal with life itself. So, it was a win for the Kulick family today.”
Crawley, the No. 2 seed, advanced to the title match when she struck seven consecutive times en route to defeating No. 3 seed and reigning back-to-back PWBA Player of the Year Liz Johnson of Deerfield, Illinois, 241-211. Johnson was looking for consecutive titles after winning the PWBA Storm Sacramento Open last week.
Johnson opened the broadcast by defeating Singapore’s Cherie Tan, 275-258. The high-scoring affair featured a combined total of 19 strikes.
All qualifying and match-play rounds of the PWBA Fountain Valley Open were held at Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley, California, on May 12-13.
The stepladder finals were held May 23 at the Raising Cane's River Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in conjunction with the USBC Queens and the finals of the QubicaAMF PWBA Sonoma County Open and PWBA Storm Sacramento Open.