But using the experience she gained as an exempt bowler and saddled with a new positive attitude, Kulick is one step away from making history again.
Kulick defeated Chad Kloss, four-games-to-two, Friday night in the Round of 16 at Sequoia Pro Bowl to advance to Saturday's Round of 8 in the Don Johnson Buckeye State Classic, where a berth in Sunday's championship round will be on the line.
In the summer of 2006, Kulick made history by finishing sixth out of 140 bowlers at the Denny's PBA Tour Trials to earn one of the 10 exemptions up for grabs that day. But the learning curve was a slow one for Kulick on the 2006-07 Tour, as it is for most rookies. The Union, N.J., native made match play just five times in 20 events and never advanced past the Round of 32.
Following a solid but disappointing performance on the four-event PBA Women's Series this fall - where she just missed making the finals in all four events - Kulick took some time away from the game and came back with a renewed attitude.
The time away paid off as Kulick advanced out of Tuesday's Tour Qualifying Round, the second time she's advanced through the qualifier this season. She then advanced to match play by finishing 29th in Thursday's Round of 64, where she defeated No. 4 Eugene McCune, 4-1, in the Round of 32 before taking down Kloss in six games.
On Saturday, Kulick will look to become the second woman ever to make the finals of a Denny's PBA Tour event, following Liz Johnson, who finished second in the 2005 Banquet Classic during the 2004-05 season. That season marked the first time women were allowed to bowl against the men after the Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) folded in 2003.
Kulick will face No. 12 Wes Malott (Argyle, Texas), who overcame a 3-1 deficit to defeat Brad Angelo, 4-3. Oddly enough, it was Malott who fell to Johnson in the semifinals of the 2005 Banquet Open, giving Johnson a spot in the title match where she fell to Tommy Jones.
Also advancing to the Round of 8 were Steve Harman (Indianapolis) and Ken Simard (Greenville, S.C.), who will face off Saturday morning with each bowler looking to make their first career championship round appearance.
The other side of the bracket features Ronnie Russell (Indianapolis) taking on eight-time titlist Mika Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.) and Chris Barnes (Double Oak, Texas) facing Todd Book (Cantonment, Fla.), with Barnes looking to make his Tour-high ninth championship round of the season.
Allen, one of the more colorful personalities on the Denny's PBA Tour, lead the Round of 64 in the 2008 Don Johnson Buckeye State Classic Thursday at Sequoia Pro Bowl with a 3,295 14-game pinfall.
The 29-year-old free spirit said he hadn't made match play since the Motel 6 Dick Weber Open, which was the last time he had a moustache. Sporting a barely-visible line of hair on his upper-lip, Allen earned the top seed for Friday's Round of 32, where he will face No. 32 Jason Wojnar, who earned the final spot in match play by two pins.
The two-time titlist Allen also made a major grip change recently, due to the returning strength in his right hand following a stress fracture which kept him out of the 2006-07 season.
"I basically made an entire grip overhaul," Allen (Columbia, S.C.) said. "I was having a lot of pain in my hand and the only reason I made the change was to relieve the pressure and by far this is the best my hand has felt in two years.
"I didn't have any strength in my hand when I came back and I was getting locked in the ball," Allen continued. "About a month ago I realized I was squeezing the (crap) out of it, so now I guess all my hand strength has come back and it feels 100 percent healthy. Now I'm locked in and still squeeze it and it doesn't bother me. And the moustache helps me strike more."
On Thursday, Allen averaged 221.14 in the first seven-game block and sat just 28th in the standings. He averaged 249.57 in the second seven-game block, with four games of 257 or better, including a 278 in the 11th game of the day.
Allen will look to make his second championship round appearance of the season and his first since the 2007 CLR Windy City Classic in November where he finished fifth. Since then he's dropped down to 31st in the PBA World Point Rankings and needs a strong finish to stay in the top 39 and maintain his exemption for 2008-09. His last victory came in the 2005-06 season.
Tour young gun Sean Rash (Wichita, Kan.) finished second with 3,255 and will face No. 31 Ronnie Russell (Indianapolis). Rash will look for his first championship round appearance since winning the season-opening United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Masters.
Joe Ciccone (Buffalo, N.Y.) finished third with 3,248 and will face No. 30 Bill O'Neill (Levittown, Pa.).
Kelly Kulick (Union, N.J.), who became the first woman to earn a Denny's PBA Tour exemption last season and earned a spot in this week's event through the Denny's PBA Tour Qualifying Round, finished 29th. She will face No. 4 Eugene McCune (Munster, Ind.).
Last week's Denny's World Championship winner Norm Duke (Clermont, Fla.) finished 16th and will face No. 17 Steve Harman (Indianapolis).
【JPBA】 プロボウリングレディース新人戦 【決勝トーナメント】
× 西村美紀 227 - 236 ○ 五十嵐久乃
○ 西村美紀 255 - 212 × 森本由希
○ 五十嵐久乃 225 - 172 × 清水弘子
For the second consecutive year, Norm Duke defeated Ryan Shafer to a win a title at Woodland Bowl, but this one meant so much more.
Duke, who came into the week on the verge of losing his Denny's PBA Tour exemption, defeated Shafer, 202-165, to win the Denny's World Championship for his third career Major and 27th title overall.
The win gives Duke a much-needed two-season Tour exemption. The veteran has struggled through various injuries this season and came into the week 51st in the PBA World Point Rankings with just five events remaining. The top 39 via the point rankings earn exemptions at season's end.
Suffering from the flu all week, Duke showed his usual flair for the dramatic, gutting it out to advance to the final round, which moved him up to 37th in the point rankings. His win, however, means he doesn't have to worry about points for the next two years.
"The number of times I thought about pulling out of this event and now to see myself sitting here with another Major title and $50,000 and all the things that come with a Major, I just can't believe it. I'm shocked," Duke (Clermont, Fla.) said. "This was the most painful flu I've ever had. Bowling this week was not fun. I really wanted to quit but every time I would go back and lay down I felt miserable so I thought, 'I'm going to be miserable either way. I may as well bowl.'"
In a final round where all four bowlers had a hard time finding their way on the lanes, Duke did just enough to overcome two great champions who struggled mightily on Sunday, in Shafer and PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. The all-time titles leader Williams, who was looking for his record-tying eighth career Major, had two opens in their semifinal match while Shafer had three late in the title match.
"If you had told me I was going to shoot (208-202), I would have said 'where'd the other 200 come from?' because you don't think Walter Ray is going to shoot below 200 in a Major," Duke said. "But Majors are sometimes about grinding it out and filling frames and doing those little things. I also had some luck on my side today."
It was another punch in the gut for Shafer, who has now made the finals in a Major 10 times and has been the runner-up four times, but has yet to come out victorious.
To add to his pain, Shafer dropped to 0-7 on TV in his career against Duke, including 0-5 in title matches. Duke beat Shafer for the title twice last season, including the finals of the 2007 Pepsi Championship at Woodland Bowl. That day, Shafer fired the 18th televised 300 game in PBA history before Duke cooled him off in the title match.
Duke defeated Williams, 208-180, in the semifinal while Shafer had advanced to the title match with a 204-158 over Australian amateur Andrew Frawley. Duke was clinging to a slim lead in the title match until Shafer opened three consecutive times in the sixth, seventh and eighth frames. Duke's strike in the ninth frame sealed the deal.
Duke earned $50,000 in addition to his two-season Denny's PBA Tour exemption through the 2009-10 season. Shafer (Horseheads, N.Y.) earned $25,000 for second while Williams (Ocala, Fla.) and Frawley (Sydney, Australia) took home $11,500 each for third and fourth, respectively.
○ 宮城鈴菜選手 243 - 184 × 姫路麗
○ 姫路麗 212 - 187 × 中谷優子
× 名和秋 231 - 235 ○ 中谷優子
'04の札幌プリンスカップ以来3年半ぶりの優勝と優勝賞金300万円を目指し中島政江（24期）がトップでラウンドロビンへ！そして1月の「DHC 第2戦」に続き2試合連続ベストアマ獲得の宮城鈴菜選手（19歳）が堂々3位で進出を果たし、今季開幕戦「DHC 第2戦」チャンピオンの中谷優子（28 期）が滑り込み8位で進出を果たす。
But always one with a flair for the dramatic, Duke swept Chris Loschetter, four-games-to-none, Friday night to advance to the championship round of the 2008 Denny's World Championship at Woodland Bowl, the third of four Majors on the Denny’s PBA Tour.
The 26-time titlist and future PBA Hall of Famer has battled injuries all season and came into the week 51st in the PBA World Point Rankings with just five weeks remaining. The top 39 at season's end earn exemptions for 2008-09 and Duke needed a big performance this week as Majors are weighted more heavily in the point rankings. He came in sitting nearly 16,000 points below the cut line.
"I doubted myself every day the last two or three weeks because of these ongoing injuries," Duke (Clermont, Fla.) said. "No matter what, something just seems to keep coming up and this week it was no different. You talk about doubt... it's not that I don't think I'm good enough, it's just a tough battle to go through. It's been tough on me to think my career could be in jeopardy because of injuries."
Battling a sickness this week on top of a nagging neck injury, Duke finished the first round of qualifying 58th, needing to move into the top 57 on day two to advance. He did in a big way, averaging 222.33 on Wednesday to move up to 16th.
Seeded 14th heading into match play Thursday night, Duke defeated defending champion Doug Kent, 4-1, then knocked off Australian Jason Belmonte, 4-2, Friday morning to set up a battle with the No. 3 seed Mika Koivuniemi. Duke defeated the Finland native, 4-2, in an odd Round of Super 16 in which all eight of the top seeds from qualifying who earned byes into the round lost.
Duke then swept Loschetter to advance to his first championship round of the season, keeping up his streak of 19 consecutive seasons with at least one TV appearance. He’ll look for his third career Major title Sunday and his first since the 2000 PBA National Championship.
"At this point in my career, the only tournaments out there for me that really mean a lot are the Majors," the 43-year-old Duke said. "All the others events just pale in comparison. I start thinking about the Majors at the beginning of the season."
Most importantly for Duke, the minimum fourth-place finish moves him up to 37th in the PBA World Point Rankings heading into Sunday.
"When I made the top 16, I factored in that I would probably get at least 10th-place points so I said, 'at least I got that done,'" Duke said. "It was a relief and it showed in my performance tonight that (the Round of 8) wasn't a lot of pressure in comparison."
Duke will have to face all-time Denny's PBA Tour titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr., who will be looking for his record-tying eighth career Major title Sunday. Williams would also open up a huge lead in the 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year race with a victory. Duke and Williams will face off in the second semifinal Sunday.
"If you're going to win a Major, you know you're going to have to beat Pete (Weber) or Walter Ray or Chris Barnes or Tommy Jones to do it. Those are the usual suspects," Duke said. "At the end of the week those are the guys on TV. I'm just glad I didn't have to bowl any of them this week up until now."
Williams advanced to his seventh championship round of the season with a 4-0 sweep of Brad Angelo. The PBA Hall of Famer, who came into the week with a four-point lead in the Player of the Year race, will look for his third victory of the season.
The first semifinal features Ryan Shafer taking on a surprise finalist in Australian amateur Andrew Frawley. Frawley came back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Wes Malott, 4-3. This season marks the first time amateurs have been allowed to compete in the PBA World Championship and the Aussie has taken full advantage. Should he win the event, he would earn a berth in the 2008-09 PBA Tournament of Champions but would not take home the two-season exemption awarded to the winner.
Shafer swept non-exempt bowler Tom Daugherty, 4-0, and will make his second appearance in a Major final this season. Shafer finished third in the H&R Block Tournament of Champions a month ago and will be looking for his first Major title despite appearing in his 10th career Major championship round.