EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey, leads after the opening round of qualifying at the Professional Women's Bowling Association East Hartford Open, the first elite event of the 2019 season.
Kulick, who earned her spot in the field through Thursday's pre-tournament qualifier (PTQ) at Silver Lanes, finished Friday's first eight-game block with 267 to take over the top spot, finishing with a 1,775 total (221.88 average).
Two-time PWBA Tour titlist Jordan Richard of Tecumseh, Michigan, is second with 1,769, while reigning PWBA Player of the Year Shannon O'Keefe of Shiloh, Illinois, is third with 1,760.
Giselle Poss of Nashville, Tennessee, and Julia Bond of Aurora, Illinois, round out the top five with scores of 1,749 and 1,729, respectively.
The top 12 players after Friday's second round of qualifying, which starts at 5 p.m. Eastern, will advance to Saturday's Round of 12. Total pinfall for 16 games will determine the advancers.
Jillian Martin of Stow, Ohio, currently is in 12th place with 1,675, a 209.38 average. Martin, a 15-year-old right-hander, also advanced through Thursday's PTQ and recently made headlines at last month's Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite International, where she was the top qualifier in the 20-and-under division and earned a spot on Junior Team USA for 2020.
Defending PWBA East Hartford Open champion Josie Barnes of Nashville, Tennessee, is 31st with a 1,555 total.
A total of 32 players earned spots in the elite field at the 2019 PWBA East Hartford Open. The top 24 players on the 2019 PWBA points list (through the U.S. Women's Open) secured automatic spots in the field, while the PTQ filled out the rest of the field.
Three players in the elite field - Erin McCarthy of Omaha, Nebraska, and Singapore's Shayna Ng and Cherie Tan - did not compete this week, which allowed 11 bowlers to advance from the PTQ.
Saturday's Round of 12 will feature six additional games and start at 10 a.m. Eastern. Total pinfall for 22 games will determine the top five players advancing to the stepladder finals, which will be broadcast live Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network.
BowlTV.com is providing livestream coverage of all rounds leading up to the stepladder finals.