WICHITA, Kan. - Stefanie Johnson of Grand Prairie, Texas, dominated the Professional Women's Bowling Association Wichita Open on Saturday, blasting the field in match play and taking the title in the stepladder finals.
Johnson, an 11-time Team USA member, defeated Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey, 247-221, in the championship match at Northrock Lanes to win her first career PWBA title.
Needing a mark and good count in the final frame, Johnson stepped up and delivered a clutch strike to lock up the win.
"After I threw that strike, I was holding back the tears because I knew I still had to make a couple more shots," said Johnson, who was the runner-up at last week's PWBA Lubbock Sports Open. "These are the moments you prepare for and it's amazing to make a good shot when you need one."
Johnson relished the opportunity to be among the first group of champions since the PWBA Tour relaunched this year thanks to support from the bowling industry.
"This is surreal," Johnson said. "This is my generation's tour and to already have a title is incredible. I'm just so excited to have this opportunity."
Leading up to the stepladder finals, the top 16 players bowled 16 games of round-robin match play and Johnson dominated the competition. She went 14-2 in her matches and averaged 234 over the 16 games to earn the top seed by 359 pins.
Kulick entered the stepladder finals as the No. 3 seed and won her opening match against amateur Shannon Sellens of Copiague, New York, 246-172, before defeating Latvia's Diana Zavjalova, 216-206, in the semifinal.
Johnson earned $10,000 for the title and a spot in the season-ending PWBA Tour Championship presented by GoBowling.com, which will be contested in Arlington, Texas, in September.