SYRACUSE, N.Y. - When Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., arrives at the Oncenter Convention Center to defend her United States Bowling Congress Queens title, she knows every bowler in the field will have their sights set on sending her home empty handed.
Last year, Kulick won not only the Queens, but the U.S. Women's Open and beat the men in the PBA Tournament of Champions, so she knows each event she competes in there's a target on her back.
Kulick's Queens title defense begins Saturday with the first round of qualifying. As the defending champion, she's guaranteed a spot in the double-elimination match-play bracket.
"I think my recent success and past performances will always make me a target," said Kulick, who defeated Tennelle Milligan of Arlington, Texas, 232-188, to win the 2010 Queens. "I still look at Carolyn (Dorin-Ballard), Liz (Johnson), Shannon (Pluhowsky) and other top-notch bowlers as fierce competitors. I see them as a threat as much as they see me as a threat."
Kulick's victory at the PBA Tournament of Champions gave her an exemption on the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour for the second time in her career. The last time Kulick was exempt on the PBA Tour in 2005-06, she put that experience to use and won the 2006 Queens.
"People will assume my season on tour will give me an advantage," said Kulick, who will look to join Millie Ignizio and Wendy Macpherson as a three-time Queens champion. "It should give me an edge, but there is no guarantee of winning. I will use my knowledge and experience to give myself the best opportunity possible. At the end of the day, all I can do is my best. Some days it's good enough and others it's not enough."
The Queens kicks off with 10 qualifying games over two days on April 23 and 24 before the field is cut to the top 80 for five additional qualifying games the morning of April 25. The top 63 then advance to join Kulick in the double-elimination match-play bracket, which begins at 1:30 p.m. Eastern on April 25. The final five players will advance to the televised stepladder finals, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. Eastern on April 27.
Should Kulick come away with another victory, she would become just the fifth woman to successfully defend a Queens title, joining Katsuko Sugimoto (1981, 1982), Donna Adamek (1979, 1980), Dorothy Fathergill (1972, 1973) and Ignizio (1970-71).
The qualifying and match-play portions of the Queens are open to the public at no charge. A limited number of tickets for the televised finals will be sold for $15 and can be purchased on BOWL.com.