is among three United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame members who will compete in the U.S. Women’s Open, which kicks off Monday at Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando, Florida.
Xtra Frame, the online bowling channel of the Professional Bowlers Association, will carry all preliminary rounds, with CBS Sports Network providing live coverage of the stepladder finals on Saturday, June 30 at 5 p.m. (Eastern).
While Sandelin (featured photo) had to bowl the pre-tournament qualifier to join fellow hall of famers Liz Johnson (left), who seeks her fifth consecutive title at the event, and 2010 winner Leanne Hulsenberg (right) in the invitational field, Sandelin was eager to make the short trip from her Tampa home.
“The fact it’s a major is special,” Sandelin said. “I’ve been practicing, and I have some good equipment, so if I can match up … it’s all about matching up. Skill comes into play, but if you don’t have the right ball in your hand, you don’t look good.”
Sandelin knows her chances for a title are slim, but she did just recently picked up her third International Bowling Media Association Senior Player of the Year Award. And, she’s healed from a quadriceps injury, suffered earlier this year while bowling in the National Golden Ladies Tournament in Las Vegas.
“I know my chances are a little bit limited, because these girls throw the ball really well,” Sandelin said. “But, I can still make spares, and I have a good mental game. I just love the game, that’s why I’m here.”
Sandelin never was a regular on the PWBA Tour. She did spend two years touring in the early 1980s, squaring off against top performers such as Aleta Sill, Donna Adamek, and Nikki Gianulias.
Somewhat surprisingly, well, for someone who would land in the USBC Hall of Fame in 1999, Sandelin admits it didn’t take long for her to decide to leave the pro ranks, though she would have to wait three years to regain her amateur status, per the rules at that time.
“I didn’t feel like I was good enough to be out there,” she said. “I had to wait until ’87 – I was in limbo for three years – and then I started trying out for Team USA, but didn’t make my first team until ’90. It took me three years to get better. It really was my spare game. It was my nemesis early on.”
But, she eventually made Team USA, and it defined her career.
“Team USA changed my life,” she said. “I got to travel the world, make the hall of fame. I don’t make it in without Team USA.”
As a 10-time member of Team USA, Sandelin became one of the program’s most decorated players, winning numerous gold medals. But, Sandelin described winning the title at the 1996 U.S. National Amateur Championship in St. Louis as “epic.”
Nowadays, she continues to take all that experience and pass it to the next generations as a coach, focusing much of her time on the future of the sport.
“I have three girls that are in college, including two that I’ve had since they were like 10 years old,” Sandelin said. “I’m so proud. It’s like they are my kids, and their parents share them with me.”
She said her late husband, Steve, taught her so much about coaching.
“My husband was my coach and also coached at Georgia Tech,” Sandelin said. “He gave me a lot of knowledge, and he lives on through them when I share with them the things he gave to me. It’s his legacy.”
This week, Sandelin expects three tough days of qualifying, as it should be.
“It’s the U.S. Open,” she said. “It should be challenging. Every sport has its U.S. Open, and it’s known to be harder. You win this, you’ve won one of the hardest tournaments of the year, whether its golf, tennis or bowling. It should be difficult.”
Click here for more information about the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open.
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