Liz Johnson Wins Chameleon Championship, Becomes Second Woman to Win PBA Tour Title


Bill Vint | PBA Media Relations 

Professional Bowlers Association | 55 E. Jackson Blvd., Suite 401 | Chicago, IL 60604 | cell: 414.339.0404


Liz Johnson Wins Chameleon Championship, Becomes Second Woman to Win PBA Tour Title

England’s Richie Teece wins PBA Shark Championship for first PBA Tour title 


RENO, Nev. – Liz Johnson of Palatine, Ill., became the second woman in the 60-year history of the Professional Bowlers Association to win a national tour title when she defeated Anthony Pepe of Elmhurst, N.Y., 220-206, in the title match of the PBA Chameleon Championship presented by Reno Tahoe at the National Bowling Stadium.

The Chameleon Championship, one of four PBA animal pattern championships conducted during the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IX presented by Eldorado Resorts Reno Properties, aired Sunday on ESPN along with the finals of the PBA Shark Championship presented by Xtra Frame, which was won by England’s Richie Teece. The back-to-back telecasts were part of the 2017-18 Go Bowling! PBA Tour package.

Johnson, the only woman to qualify for three PBA nationally-televised finals, threw solid pocket shots on her first nine attempts before leaving the 4-6-7-10 split in the10th frame after the match had already been decided.

Johnson, a 25-time winner in Professional Women’s Bowling Association competition including 10 major titles and three consecutive PWBA Player of the Year honors, was forced to bowl against men when the former women’s pro tour ceased operations in 2003. Between 2004, when the PBA opened its membership to women for the first time, and 2015 when the PWBA was resurrected, Johnson won a PBA Regional title, and became the first woman to appear in a PBA national tour telecast in the 2004 Banquet Open in Wyoming, Mich., where she lost in the title match to Tommy Jones, 219-192. She also finished fourth in the 2014 PBA Cheetah Championship.

Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., was the first woman to win a PBA Tour title, winning the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas by defeating Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, in the title match, 265-195.

“This is the cherry on top of my career,” the 43-year-old Buffalo, N.Y., area native said. “This win is for all of the young girls in any sport, not just bowling, who have to compete against the guys. This is for you.

“I never thought I’d have the opportunity again,” Johnson said. “You never know, bowling against the guys. Conditions haven’t been very conducive to my ‘A’ game the past couple of years, but I felt pretty confident coming into the show.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been intimidated, in my entire life, or scared of anyone on the lanes,” she continued. “I grew up bowling against the guys since I was 10 or 11. I’ve been beating them since I was 17, so I didn’t feel like I had anything to prove. I didn’t have anything to lose, so I just went out to do my best, and that’s all I can ask of myself.”

Johnson advanced to the title match by bowling the highest score in a preliminary four-player shootout match where the two highest scores moved on. Johnson had a 257 game and Pepe a 255 while Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas (248) and Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich. (236), were eliminated.

To reach the Chameleon Championship telecast Johnson out-bowled a WSOB IX field of 195 bowlers from around the world.

In the second telecast of the ESPN doubleheader, Teece won the Shark Championship with a 193-176 victory over Charlie Brown Jr. of Grandville, Mich., in a battle of first-time PBA Tour television finalists. Teece put the title away with back-to-back strikes in the ninth and 10 frames for his only double of the contest.

Brown earned his berth in the championship match with a 227 in the preliminary shootout. Teece was second with a 209, eliminating Tom Daugherty of Riverview, Fla. (197) and Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash. (193).

“It’s incredible,” Teece said. “It’s been a dream of mine ever since I started watching old VHS tapes of the PBA when I was 10 years old. I really, really give credit to the guys who won, and now I’ve joined that circle.”

Teece made his decision to come to bowl in PBA competition more by necessity than choice.

“I was a web developer for three years after college, but the company I worked for ran out of projects for me. I was pretty sad about it, but the money they gave me (as aseverance package) made me think about it. Joining the PBA was something I’d always dreamed about. I was young and three or four years later, here I am.”

In winning his first PBA Tour title, Teece joined the ranks of the handful of players who have won a PBA title in their first television appearance. Canada’s Graham Fach was the most recent to accomplish that feat when he won the 2016 Barbasol PBA Players Championship.

ESPN’s coverage of the Go Bowling! PBA Tour’s WSOB IX package continues on Sunday, Dec. 24, at 1 p.m. EST with back-to-back telecasts of the PBA Cheetah Championship presented by PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game and the Pepsi PBA Scorpion Championship presented by World Series coverage continues on Dec. 31 at 1 p.m. EST with the PBA World Championship finals. 


National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev. (finals aired on ESPN on Dec. 17)

Championship: Liz Johnson, Palatine, Ill. ($20,000) def. Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y. ($10,000), 220-206.

Shootout Match (top two scorers advance to championship match): Johnson 257; Pepe 255; Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 248 ($5,000); Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 236 ($4,000).


National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev. (finals aired on ESPN on Dec. 17)

 Championship: Richie Teece, England ($20,000) def. Charlie Brown Jr., Grandville, Mich. ($10,000), 193-176.

Shootout Match (top two scorers advance to championship match): Brown 227; Teece 209; Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 197 ($5,000); Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 193 ($4,000).

# # #


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s