SOUTH GLENS FALLS, NY – With the grueling format and challenging track conditions, experience can play a key role at the US Women’s Open, and no one in this week’s field has more experience than six-time champion Liz Johnson of Niagara Falls, New York.
The 48-year-old right showed her experience on Friday night on a flat and demanding 39-foot route, throwing an eight-game block of 1,641 to move into second place with a 16-game total of 3,329. Singapore’s Cherie Tan added a block of 1,601 in round two and remained in the lead after two rounds with a total of 3,339.
They were followed in the standings by Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas (3,287), Kayla Bandy of Wichita, Kansas (3,284) and Erin McCarthy of Elkhorn, Nebraska (3,274).
Competition at Kingpin’s Alley Family Fun Center continues Saturday at 8 a.m. EST with the third qualifying round on a 42-foot oil-filled circuit. Saturday’s round will determine the 30 players who advance to round four and the final oil pattern.
Those 30 competitors will play eight more matches before the field is narrowed down to the top 24 athletes. Those players will then play 24 round-robin matches over two days, with seeding based on their 32-game totals.
There will be 30 bonus pins awarded for each match play victory, and the totals of 56 matches, including bonus pins, will determine the five players for the championship ladder.
All qualifying rounds and match play are broadcast live on BowlTV.com through Monday night, and the event concludes live Tuesday on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. ET.
The winner will take home the iconic US Women’s Open trophy, a coveted green jacket and a top prize of $60,000.
Liz Johnson was fueled by a strong start with games of 207, 225, 226 and 228 to open the block and hung on for the final half with games of 187, 196, 184 and 188.
Her US Women’s Open victories (1996, 2007, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017) are spread across three different decades, and a victory this week would add a seventh win in a fourth decade. On a day when the lanes were tough and strong minds would remain in contention, Johnson drew on her experience and understood that patience was a necessary attribute to possess.
“I think over the years this event has kind of taught me to be patient,” said Johnson, who won PWBA Player of the Year in 2015, 2016 and 2017. “Even on day one “, I didn’t start so well at first, but I hung on for a good block. Tomorrow is another day. It’s going to be another tough eight games, and I’m going to take it one day, one game at a time. That’s all you can do now. You can’t look ahead. Again, patience is key.
Liz Johnson’s season at this point has been “OK” in her own words, but she’s cashed in all seven events and made games per game or top 12 in three events. She still produces and is certainly capable of winning every time she laces her shoes, but understands that the talent on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour continues to improve, but she feels right at home at the US Women’s Open. .
“I feel like I could be better,” Johnson said. “I had a little doubt in my mind for this season because my legs weren’t working as well as I hoped. You have such talent here and it’s hard to keep up. So far it’s somewhat consistent. I’ve been in the top 12 every week and cashed out every week. But it’s the US Open. It’s a long format, which I like, and the ratings are low. Shooting is really challenging day to day, and that’s something I love. The more matches, the better.
The day’s high block belonged to Stefanie Johnson, who shot a total of 1,720 eight games to open competition this morning on the B team. Johnson struggled on Thursday’s 44-foot oil circuit (1,567 ) and was outside the cut line after the first qualifying round.
She opened the block with a game of 266, which set the tone.
“Honestly, I felt yesterday, and I know we play on different patterns, I often got trapped just trying to change balls more than I probably needed to,” Stefanie Johnson said. “So today I kind of went with the game plan of coming out the door hard with a ball that I was comfortable with and making moves with that ball until that isn’t really an option anymore.”
The 38-year-old right-hander was in danger of losing the cushion she had built in Game 6, when she couldn’t find a rhythm and was unable to punch. The US Women’s Open is all about digging deep and finding another level, and late in the game she managed to throw five straight strikes to save this game with 194, and possibly her tournament.
“Yeah, my back was against the wall,” Stefanie Johnson said. “That game, I was 78 in the sixth frame, and I just knew that if I didn’t make any kind of bold move, it was going to be a disaster. You just dig deep into those moments and make the best shots you can and let the pins fall as they do. Luckily, I somehow got that game back and was able to move on.
Defending champion Josie Barnes of Hermitage, Tennessee, is 30th at 3,131.