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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History Liz Johnson -- May 2, 1974

Western New York doesn't have that many athletes who can at least make a legitimate claim to being the best ever in their sport. Liz Johnson might deserve that distinction.

It's impossible to say she's the best woman bowler in history, but you'd have to consider her when arguing about that title.

Johnson bowled at Morehead State before moving on to the women's tour. She won the U.S. Women's Open in 1996 and took home rookie of the year honors. Then she bowled the third perfect game on television in women's pro bowling history in 2001.

The Professional Women's Bowling Association died in 2003 due to a lack of corporate support. What did Johnson do for competition? Join the men's tour, of course, in 2004.

She was the first woman to reach the round of 64 in a men's event, the first woman to reach the televised finals of a men's event, and the first woman to win a regional men's tournament (2005).

Since then, she has won another women's U.S. Open and done well in many other competitions. No wonder she was named "female bowler of the decade" by U.S. Bowler in 2009.

-- Budd Bailey