Liz Johnson first female bowler this season to gain Commissioner's Exemption


    PBA News

    Competes in 2006 GEICO Classic

    2004PBA18LizJohnson.jpg PBA Commissioner and CEO Fred Schreyer has announced that Liz Johnson has been awarded the Commissioner's Exemption for the 2006 GEICO Classic, Feb. 22-26, at AMF Thruway Lanes in Cheektowaga, N.Y. The live ESPN televised finals will take place Sunday, Feb. 26 at 12:30 p.m. EST.

    Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., made history last season, becoming the first woman to appear in a championship round in a Denny's PBA Tour event when she finished second in the 2005 Banquet Open.

    Earlier in the 2004-05 season, Johnson became the first woman to qualify for a standard Tour event when she finished fourth in the Denny's PBA Tour Qualifying Round in the 2004 Uniroyal Tire Classic in Wickliffe, Ohio, falling in the Round of 64 to friend and fellow Buffalo native Brad Angelo.

    Johnson qualified for her second Tour event in the 2005 Banquet Open, earning a spot into the Round of 64 by just two pins via the Denny's PBA Tour Qualifying Round.

    The 31-year-old proceeded to advance to match play by finishing 11th in the Round of 64, where she dispatched of six-time titlist Chris Barnes in the Round of 32. She then knocked off Mike DeVaney in the Round of 16 and Ritchie Wolfe in the Round of 8 to become the first woman to advance to a Denny's PBA Tour championship round.

    Johnson held her own in the finals, making her way to the title match with a 235-228 win over Wes Malott before falling to Tommy Jones, 219-192.

    Fred_Schreyer_5719.jpg "Liz's accomplishments on the lanes, and the class with which she has carried herself off the lanes, have been very positive for the PBA and the sport of bowling," Schreyer said. "I'm pleased to be able to offer her the opportunity to make another run at history in front of her home crowd."

    This summer, Johnson made history again, becoming the first woman to win a PBA event when she captured the 2005 East Region Kingpin Lanes Open, a PBA Regional Tour event.

    "It's all kind of come full circle because the last time the Tour was here I was bowling in the Pro-Am as a junior bowler," said Johnson of the last Tour stop in the Buffalo area in 1991. "It's going to be pretty exciting bowling in front of my family and friends in the place I bowl league in, work in and practice at. It's an honor bowling with the best bowlers in the world."

    Johnson was an 11-time titlist on the Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour. She won the 1996 U.S. Open on her way to being named the 1996 PWBA Rookie of the Year.

    The Denny's PBA Tour is in Trussville, Ala., this week for the 2006 Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Classic at Lightning Strikes. The live ESPN televised championship round takes place Sunday, Jan. 29 at 12:30 p.m EST.