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By Daniel Farish
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the finals of the Ultimate Queens Bracket Challenge!
After four weeks of voting, our field of 32 USBC Queens champions has come down to just two players, Kelly Kulick (2007, 2010) and Leanne Hulsenberg (1999).
You can vote for the winner on the PWBA’s Twitter page, Facebook Story and Instagram Story.
In the four rounds of combined voting, each player received nearly 75 percent of the votes in their individual matches. They have dominated every opponent they’ve faced, except for the semifinal match of Kulick against Shannon O’Keefe. Kulick snuck through to the final with 51.8 percent of the vote.
Kulick and Hulsenberg have combined for three Queens victories and nine top-five finishes. They also have combined for four wins and 15 top-five finishes at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Hulsenberg has 27 Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour wins. Kulick has six, but five of them are majors. If you want to even that out, let’s throw in Kulick’s 2009 Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Women’s Shark Championship, 2009 PBA Women’s World Championship and her historic win at the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions.
In 2003, the two players squared off in the opening match of the U.S. Women’s Open telecast and dramatically tied at 214. Kulick edged Hulsenberg in the one-ball roll-off and went on to defeat Wendy Macpherson, Michelle Feldman and Carolyn Dorin-Ballard for her first career PWBA major victory.
Their U.S. Women’s Open rematch in 2011 saw Kulick, the top seed, fall in the championship match, 218-183, to Hulsenberg inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Hulsenberg was the No. 2 seed and defeated Lynda Barnes 247-246 in the semifinal, before moving on to face Kulick.
Hulsenberg and Kulick haven’t faced each another during a Queens telecast, so it’s hard to predict how this match would go in the Queens environment.
Kulick plays the lanes straighter than Hulsenberg. Then again, so do most players over the course of the PWBA’s history. Hulsenberg has an ability to get her feet left and loop the ball to the right better than almost anyone.
I could see Kulick jumping ahead on the fresh, and, as the lanes started to transition and force the players farther left on the lane, Hulsenberg would begin to make up ground.
The final game would come down to who could make the best shots. Would Kulick be able to split boards for the win? Would Hulsenberg be able to create the perfect shape on the lane, giving her all the area in the world to strike?
It’s up to you, the voters, to decide. Aaron, Emil and I have presented you with the facts, and you have all the information at your disposal.
So, who do you have? Kulick or Hulsenberg?