WSC: Kulick off to strong start

KulickTopTeam USA's Kelly Kulick got off to a strong start Friday at the World Tenpin Bowling Association World Singles Championships in Limassol, Cyprus, and holds a slim lead after the opening round.

The 35-year-old right-hander started with a 279 game and used that momentum to carry her to a six-game total of 1,373 (228.8 average), three pins better than previous leader Alena Korobkova of Russia (1,370). Team USA's Shannon O'Keefe is third with 1,363.

Kulick's block included games of 279, 207, 218, 226, 205 and 238, while O'Keefe was steady with 225, 233, 239, 247, 219 and 200.

"The expectation coming in was for Shannon and I both to be in the top four, so we each get the bye and hopefully meet each other in the finals," Kulick said. "Everything seems to be what we expected from team practice. That's one day down with another day to go for qualifying, and then it all comes down to the brackets like March Madness. I really want to get out there and make some quality shots, one shot at a time. I came here to win. I want to bowl really well, and I want to walk away with this title."

There are 72 men and 56 women from 44 countries taking part in the inaugural World Singles Championships. Each country had the option of sending a maximum of two men and two women.

Friday's competition featured half of the field in each division competing in the opening round, while the rest of the players, who competed Thursday, looked on.

TJYeahSumTeam USA's Tommy Jones jumped out to a commanding lead with a 1,511 effort Thursday and was not challenged by Friday's competitors. Two-hander Osku Palermaa of Finland is second with 1,406, and England's Mat Miller is third with 1,405. Jones' teammate, 13-time Professional Bowlers Association Tour titlist Chris Barnes, shot 1,213 on Thursday, but now finds himself in 29th place, 16 pins below the cutline with six games to go.

The qualifying portion of the World Singles Championships consists of 12 games over two six-game blocks to narrow the field down to the top 24 in each division. Action then will shift to the match-play bracket with the top eight players in each division earning a first-round bye.

Jones and Barnes will be back on the lanes Saturday, and Kulick and O'Keefe will bowl their second round Sunday.

"I'm very optimistic about the rest of the week," O'Keefe said. "There's always a little bit of jitters before you start your first round, but then once things get going and you have a good start, it definitely gives you some confidence going into the rest of the week. Now, I can just play a little bit and see what else it out there."

Free live streaming is being provided of the entire event. To view the live streaming, click here.