Hall of Famer Tish Johnson leads USBC Queens after second round of qualifying


    United States

    Marcia Kloempken fires the 14th perfect game in the 47-year history of the Queens

    2007USBCQTishJohnson.jpg Tish Johnson of Colorado Springs, Colo., may have won 25 titles when the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour was still around, but these days the Hall of Famer admits she's not as sharp as she used to be.

    Despite that fact, Johnson was able to move into the overall lead Sunday as the second Round of qualifying wrapped up at the 2007 United States Bowling Congress Queens at AMF Carolina Lanes.

    Johnson totaled 2,276 for 10 games, an average of 227.6 per game. She leads Team USA member Shannon O'Keefe of Rochester, N.Y., by 10 pins. Reigning U.S. Amateur champion Lynda Barnes of Flower Mound, Texas, is third at 2,234.

    "We don't have tournaments anymore, so I really don't practice that much," said Johnson, whose 25 titles ranked as the fourth best in PWBA history. "So I'm just trying to work on my timing now. The more games we bowl, the better I will continue to do. My game has always been really good, so it's just a matter of trying to fine tune it."

    With five final games of qualifying set for Monday morning, Johnson is already starting to focus on match play.

    "I'd rather just go straight to match play because it's more exciting and there's more pressure," Johnson said. "In qualifying, sometimes I get lazy and just sit there instead of working on my timing. When it gets to match play, that's when it's time to step it up, execute and not miss spares like I did today."

    2007USBCQShannonOKeefe.jpg O'Keefe (right), who is competing in the Queens for just the second time, said some work on her wrist positions is paying off this week.

    "I've really been working on staying slow and keeping my hand behind the ball and not coming around it," said O'Keefe, whose 1,158 was the day's highest five-game total. "Every time I came around it, I left a 10 pin. So as long as I stay behind the ball, I've noticed my carry percentage has gone way up."

    With a solid 10-game total, O'Keefe feels she's in a good position to make the cut into match play.

    "My goal coming into the week was put myself in a position where I'm not stressing the last day to make the top 63," O'Keefe said. "Now I'm at that point, so tomorrow I can work on some things, maybe see what other looks I might have on the lanes and get a good mentality of what I want to do in match play."

    Also Sunday, Team USA's Marcia Kloempken of Pleasant View, Utah, fired the 14th perfect game in the 47-year history of the Queens. Kloempken finished the day in 10th place with 2,160.

    "I didn't get nervous until my very last ball and then my heart started racing," Kloempken said. "Finishing off the 300 means all my hard work is paying off. I've been working really hard on my game lately and to shoot 300 at the Queens really feels great."

    The field was cut to the top 101 players after Sunday's second round. Those players advanced to compete in five additional games Monday morning before cutting to the top 63 plus defending champion Shannon Pluhowsky of Phoenix.

    The remaining 64 athletes compete in three-game, double-elimination match play on Monday and Tuesday. The tournament concludes with the top five bowlers (four from the winners bracket and the contenders bracket champion) facing off live on ESPN2 in the stepladder finals Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern.

    In addition to the live telecast of the Queens, the event is also scheduled to be re-aired on May 20 at 1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. Tickets for the live broadcast on May 2 are $10 and can be purchased at AMF Carolina Lanes or Northcross Lanes in Huntersville, N.C.

    The USBC Queens, which features an overall prize fund of $200,000 with $30,000 going to the champion, is presented by Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus Hotel/Casinos in Reno, Nev., and is sponsored by Kegel, the official lane maintenance provider for USBC.

    Qualifying - Second Round (five games)

    The top 101 women after 10 games advanced to the Third Round