Kelly Kulick describes the past year as the most grueling of her life. All of her frustration, hard work and patience paid off Wednesday as she won the 2007 United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Queens.
Kulick of Union, N.J., who a year ago made history by becoming the first woman to earn a full-time exemption on the Denny's PBA Tour, defeated Diandra Asbaty of Chicago 192-143 at AMF Carolina Lanes to win the biggest and most prestigious title in women's bowling.
"I've worked very hard at my game for a long time," Kulick said. "I've had a full year of practice and that was a big time advantage. After the year that I've had, this is the icing on the cake. This is the big blowout of the candle."
Kulick vaulted into the lead in the championship match after Asbaty left a 3-4-6-7-10 split in the eighth frame. Asbaty then left another split in the ninth frame, allowing Kulick to step up and seal the victory with two strikes.
"I didn't even look at the scoreboard, but after she left those splits I knew I just needed to step up and nail a couple shots," Kulick said. "That strike on the left lane in the eighth frame really put it away."
Asbaty, a two-time U.S. Amateur champion and nine-time Team USA member, said she never got comfortable in the championship match.
"I just didn't line up right and I didn't make good decisions," Asbaty said. "I just didn't get comfortable and with only one game for a title it's very important to get comfortable."
On the way to the title, Kulick defeated three-time Queens champion Wendy Macpherson of Henderson, Nev., and then knocked off Kristal Scott of Lawrence, Kan., in the semifinal. In the opening match, Macpherson advanced by defeating Team USA's Shannon O'Keefe of Rochester, N.Y.
Kulick took home $30,000 for first place in addition to the Queens tiara, pendant and crystal trophy. Asbaty earned $18,000 for second.
The USBC Queens, which is presented by Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus, featured a field of 344 of the top female bowlers in the world competing for a total prize fund of $200,000. The event will be rebroadcast on ESPN at 1 p.m. on May 20.