November 7, 2006 19:00
With all the attention on Kelly Kulick since she became the first woman to earn an exemption for the Denny’s PBA Tour this summer, Liz Johnson’s accomplishments have been overshadowed.
The Cheektowaga, N.Y., native is back in the spotlight this week as she finished third with a 1,547 seven-game pinfall Wednesday in the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round for the 2006 Etonic Championship at Thruway Lanes.
This marks the fourth time Johnson has qualified for an event through the Qualifying Round. She became the first woman to qualify back in 2004, and later became the first woman to advance to a Denny’s PBA Tour championship round when she finished second in the 2005 Banquet Open.
Joining Johnson in Thursday’s Round of 64 will be another local woman, Michelle Feldman (Skaneateles, N.Y.), who finished second overall with 1,556. This week marks the second time in Tour history two women have advanced through the Qualifying Round, and the first since Johnson and Cathy Dorin-Lizzi qualified for the 2006 Ace Hardware Championship in March.
With Kulick joining Johnson and Feldman in the field as one of 58 exempt bowlers, this will be the first time in Tour history three women have competed in a standard Tour event.
Leading the qualifying field with 1,587 was Chad Kloss (Greenfield, Wis.), who advanced for the second week in a row. Kloss finished eighth in the season-opening USBC Masters, and has an early lead in the 2006-07 PBA World Point Rankings among non-exempt bowlers. The highest non-exempt bowler in the point rankings at the end of the season earns an exemption for 2007-08.
“I told myself that if I did well in the Masters I would stay out here and try to chase the exemption,” said Kloss, the 2005-06 PBA Midwest Region Rookie of the Year. “Looking at the points now and knowing how hard it is to make points up, I feel very confident.”
The top six PBA members and top amateur advanced to Thursday’s Round of 64. Also advancing were Rudy Kasimakis (Tupelo, Miss.), Dino Castillo (Carrollton, Texas) and Troy Wollenbecker (Toledo, Ohio), as well as William Stoddard (Rochester, N.Y.) who was the highest amateur.
Thursday features two seven-game qualifying blocks, the first of which gets underway at 11 a.m. EST. The top 32 will advance to match play on Friday.
The final four will bowl for the $25,000 top prize and an exemption for the 2007-08 Denny’s PBA Tour season Sunday, Nov. 12. The live ESPN televised finals get underway at 1 p.m. EST.
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