Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y., recently earned $50,000 for winning the 2013 Lipton Bowling’s U.S. Open as well as an additional $10,000 for defeating men’s champion Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, in bowling’s first Battle of the Sexes.
It was the third U.S. Women’s Open win for Johnson, a 39-year-old right-hander, and she now is tied with Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., for second on the event’s all-time win list.
Johnson’s time on the lanes goes back more than two decades. She has enjoyed success individually and with Team USA, but there is so much more to her than what you see on TV or on BOWL.com.
Here is a list of 10 things most people don’t know about Liz Johnson (if you want to see her bowling bio, go to BOWL.com/teamusa):
- Liz spent a year at Morehead State University before realizing that bowling was what she really wanted to do. Not long after, she made Team USA for the first time and joined the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour.
- When she was young, Liz wanted to be a nurse like her mother, but it didn’t take long for bowling to become her passion. Her dreams of bowling for a living started in her teens, and she’s been able to live that dream for more than 20 years.
- Liz loves animals and owns five cats. She also is an aunt seven times over. Her older brother Mike has three children, and her older sister Teresa has four. So far, only her niece Hailey, a recent state champion in New York, has been bitten bowling the bowling bug.
- Whether she’s on the road or at home in the Buffalo, N.Y., area, Liz likes to start the day with a great cup of coffee. When she’s traveling, she always has her eye out for a Starbucks.
- Even top players have superstitions and pre-shot routines. Before Liz gets up on the approach, she likes to kick her right foot on the step or edge of the approach. It gives her a split second to think about what she wants to do.
- Liz played softball from the time she was 8 years old until she graduated high school at 18. She pitched early on and showed her versatility when she got called up to varsity in eighth grade and moved to the infield. She started pitching again during her sophomore year and went on to notch 60 wins before graduation.
- Bowling is the only job Liz has ever known. Before earning her living on the lanes, she worked in her local bowling center. She also has added pro shop experience. She has considered massage therapy as a possible career down the road.
- It’s hard for Liz to pick her top bowling moment. Winning her third U.S. Open title was an amazing accomplishment because the grueling week included more than 50 games at three different bowling centers.
Becoming the first woman to make the televised finals of Professional Bowlers Association Tour event (2005 PBA Banquet Open) was a crowning moment, even though she finished second to Tommy Jones.
- Bowling has taken Liz all over the United States and to nine different countries. But like any bowler, she loves the idea of taking a vacation without bowling balls. Her wish list includes the South of France and the Greek Islands.
- Liz is a big sports fan from a very athletic family. Growing up in upstate New York has exposed her to baseball, football and hockey, as a spectator and in her front yard with her siblings. Her favorite team to cheer for is the New York Yankees.