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BOWLING U.S. WOMEN’S OPEN : It Could Be Show, Not Tell, for Wagner

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Leila Wagner is bowling her way out of the TV booth.

If she keeps up high scoring in the U.S. Open at Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley, Leila won’t be behind an ESPN microphone at Thursday’s national telecast of the finals.

Instead, Wagner will be behind Lanes 51 and 52 as one of five finalists.

“That’s just where I prefer to be,” said the TV analyst of women’s bowling who was making shots long before calling them.

After 24 games Monday, the former Miss Washington of 1981 is averaging 215 for a score of 5,245. She is only a couple of strikes distant from co-leaders’ Wendy Macpherson and Leanne Barrette, both at 5,272.

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The 240-player field was cut to 60 for today’s eight-game fourth round. After that the top 24 will begin round-robin match play through Wednesday to determine the five shooting at a first prize of $16,000 in this $100,000 event put on by the Bowling Proprietors Assn. of America.

Wagner, 30, born in Lynwood but raised and schooled in Seattle before moving to Annapolis, Md., was a winner in junior bowling before her victory in the beauty pageant.

After that she bowled her way to pro titles while pursuing a modeling career that included voice work. The latter led to her selection at the microphone with Denny Schreiner on the Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour.

Tournament notes

Junie Kawate, Gardena league bowler, was the overall amateur winner among the 500 who competed in the Open pro-am. Amateurs in bowling can collect prize money and Kawate earned $2,000, according to Dave Osborn, tournament host. . . . An amateur tournament is scheduled at 1:30 today on the Fountain Bowl Lanes. It’s a consolation competition for amateurs cut from the Open field.

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