Hulsenberg preps for U.S. Women's Open

ARLINGTON, Texas - A year after winning Bowling's U.S. Women's Open in front of a world-record crowd at one of the most unique venues in bowling history, Leanne Hulsenberg of Roseville, Calif., is ready to take on this year's unique challenge - the outdoor finals.

Leanne HulsenbergHulsenberg, who last year defeated Kelly Kulick, 218-183, on specially constructed lanes at the 50-yard-line of Cowboys Stadium, will headline a field of more than 200 of the top female bowlers in the world competing in the 2012 U.S. Women's Open at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., starting Friday.

The finals of the event will be taped for broadcast on lanes constructed outside on Virginia Street in downtown Reno under the famous Reno Arch. It's the first time a women's bowling event in the United States will be conducted outside.

"I got acclimated to Cowboys Stadium quickly, and it didn't feel so ominous though it was such a big place," said Hulsenberg, whose win last year was before a crowd of 8,017 fans - a bowling attendance record. "I was surprised I felt comfortable there. We were there all morning, and that helped. But being outside will be totally different, I don't even picture it yet. For anyone who makes it to the finals, it's going to be different."

Another thing Hulsenberg is looking forward to in her title defense is the proximity of the event to her home. Roseville, where the Team USA member calls home, is only about a two-hour drive from Reno.

"I get excited to bowl any tournament, and to be defending champion is pretty cool," said Hulsenberg, a 28-time professional champion. "The best part is that it is two hours from my home. My family is coming, a lot of friends and a lot of the juniors that I coach. Hopefully, I can make them proud."

The U.S. Women's Open, which features a first-place prize of $40,000 and overall prize fund of $170,000, begins Friday with the first of three six-game qualifying blocks for all participants.

After 18 games, the field is cut to the top 25 percent for six final qualifying games, which will be followed by the top 16 participants competing in round-robin match play. The top five players after 40 games will advance to the televised finals, which will be taped for broadcast on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. Eastern on July 3.

All rounds of the competition leading up to the televised finals will be broadcast live on's BowlTV.

The Senior U.S. Women's Open will take place alongside the U.S. Women's Open with a field of more than 60 of the top female bowlers age 50 and older competing for the top prize of $5,000.