Kuhlkin leads, Restrepo bounces back at BowlerX.com PWBA Twin Cities Open

EAGAN, Minn. - Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York, has found her stride in the second half of the 2018 Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour season, and she continued her run Friday after leading qualifying at the BowlerX.com PWBA Twin Cities Open.

Kuhlkin, who's looking to become the first player this season to make three consecutive championship-round appearances, averaged nearly 222 for her two eight-game blocks at Cedarvale Lanes to pace the field with a 3,550 total. Rocio Restrepo of Louisville, Ohio, sits in second place with 3,484.

The top 12 players in the field now will join Kuhlkin and Restrepo in a final six-game qualifying round Saturday morning starting at 11 a.m. Eastern, and the top five players in total pinfall after 22 games will advance to the stepladder finals, which will be televised live at 5 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network.

Kuhlkin's run started in June after winning her first career major championship at the U.S. Women's Open. Despite the tour taking a month-long hiatus in July, Kuhlkin showed no signs of slowing down after making it back to the stepladder finals at last week's Pepsi PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open, where she finished in third place.

"My ball motion has been really good, and when you see the right shape your swing gets a lot looser and it's easier to make shots," said Kuhlkin, a two-time winner on the PWBA Tour. "I have some momentum going for me right now, but it's important to stay humble, too, because the ladies out here are really good. It's important to come in and treat each event like a new tournament, but you have to ride the wave when it's there."

The 24-year-old right-hander took the lead after Friday's opening block (1,837), and she was able to increase her lead over the field despite averaging 15 pins less per game in the final eight games (1,713).

She will look to stay ahead of the moves Saturday to make a third consecutive appearance on CBS Sports Network.

"It's going to be really important to stay in the pocket and pay attention to the motion in the midlane," Kuhlkin said. "They were a lot trickier this afternoon, and you could see it across the board. I'm going to just try and stay ahead of the transition, keep my head down and keep moving."

Restrepo_250Restrepo bounced back after a disappointing trip to the PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open last week, where travel woes caused her to miss the first round of qualifying and ultimately finish in 32nd place.

Restrepo, along with Clara Guerrero and Maria Jose Rodriguez, were delayed after competing for their native Colombia in the Central American and Caribbean Sports Games in Barranquilla, Colombia.

"Last week was a little rough," said Restrepo, a three-time PWBA Tour champion who won the 2016 PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open. "Clara made the show last year, and I won in 2016, so it was frustrating, but we knew it was a priority to compete for our country. We tried to make it and had so many issues."

Restrepo's season has had its ups and downs, but she's hoping to finish strong and move on to the season-ending PWBA Tour Championship in September.

"This season has been a little different from the others," Restrepo said. "I felt really good coming in, but my health hasn't been great at some points and my physical game kind of lacked. I didn't realize how bad my physical game was until after the U.S. Women's Open, so I had to do something about it. I've been working on a few things. I've changed my pitches and a few other things, and I think I'm finally seeing the results."

The final spot in Saturday's advancers round came down to a one-game roll-off after Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, California, and Sydney Brummett of Wichita, Kansas, finished qualifying tied at 3,282, a 205.12 average.

Parkin, finishing the game first, rolled a double in the 10th frame to force Brummett to match to advance. Brummett's first shot made it to the pocket but was unable to topple the 10 pin as Parkin recorded the victory, 201-184.

The BowlerX.com PWBA Twin Cities Open is the second of three elite-field events that will take place in August. Following the U.S. Women's Open, the top 24 players on the PWBA points list earned their way into the elite-field events with the remainder of the 32-player field determined through a pre-tournament qualifier (PTQ).