Professional sports history was made Wednesday night when Bowling's U.S. Women's Open was held outdoors on Virginia Street under the iconic Reno Arch. Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., defeated Missy Parkin of Lake Forest, Calif., 170-160, to win the major title.
Playing against the wind, dust and the setting desert sun, Kulick won her third career U.S. Women's Open title while overcoming some of the most challenging lane conditions in the history of professional bowling.
"I don't know what it is about this event, but I always gear up for it," said Kulick, who also won the U.S. Women's Open in 2003 and 2010. "To have this type of atmosphere, it brings a lot of attention to our sport, which is much needed. The Bowling Proprietors' Association of America, Ebonite and all the sponsors are trying to showcase women's bowling, and I support it."
The five players in the finals, which will be broadcast July 3 at 8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2, battled challenging lane conditions over the course of the evening under a unique setting in downtown Reno.
"Kelly faced the dual challenge of competing against the best female players from across the globe in the face of playing conditions U.S. women's bowling has never before seen," said Steve Johnson, BPAA executive director. "Great credit goes to the incredible competitors in this year's finals for helping us to do the seemingly impossible - hosting a competition that may have topped last year's U.S. Women's Open at Cowboys Stadium."
Added Johnson, "Congratulations to the hundreds of players from throughout the world who came to Reno to compete and who have helped drive an incredible resurgence for the popularity of bowling."
With winds gusting between 18-24 mph throughout the finals, the players were forced to deal with adverse conditions throughout the evening. Dust on the lanes drastically affected the scoring pace and forced the bowlers to resort to using plastic balls much of the night.
"It was like bowling in the desert," said Kulick, who entered the finals as the top seed and only had to bowl one match to win the title. "Sitting there and watching what was happening before me really helped give me the advantage of figuring out what I had to do to win."
Despite throwing splits in the eighth and the ninth frame, Kulick entered the 10th frame with a chance to shut out Parkin. Kulick spared in the final frame to lock up the title and knock off the second-seeded Parkin.
In the semifinal match, Parkin took down No. 3 seed Shannon O'Keefe of Arlington, Texas, 150-148, in a match that was back and forth the whole way. Parkin locked up the win when O'Keefe, needing a double, left a pocket 10 pin in the final frame.
O'Keefe advanced to the semifinal by defeating fourth seed Stefanie Nation of Grand Prairie, Texas, 182-165. In the opening match of the five-player stepladder finals, Nation took down Lynda Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, 166-158.
The U.S. Women's Open was accompanied this week by the inaugural Senior U.S. Women's Open. In Tuesday's finals, Robin Romeo of Newhall, Calif., defeated Lucy Sandelin of Tampa, Fla., 225-188, to win the title.
Joining the Brands of Ebonite International as sponsors of the 2012 Bowling's U.S. Women's Open for the second year in a row include: Jani King, the official cleaning company of bowling; and Lipton Naturals, the official tea of the 2012 Bowling's U.S. Women's Open. Additional sponsors include: Brunswick Bowling & Billiards, the official lane provider of Bowling's U.S. Women's Open; Eldorado Resorts, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus Resort Casinos; Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA); Kegel; Dexter; Bowling Music Network; and Turbo Grips.
For more information on the U.S. Women's Open, visit BowlingsUSWomensOpen.com.