ORLANDO, Fla. – Erin McCarthy, who captured her first Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour title two weeks ago, seemingly always finds a way to work her way into contention, having made the stepladder finals in two majors.
At the U.S. Women’s Open this week, McCarthy has quietly worked her way up the standings and Thursday night posted a 6-2 record in the opening round of match play to snag the lead at Boardwalk Bowl. The third seed for last year’s U.S. Women’s Open television show, McCarthy understands she has a long way to go before this year’s finalists are determined.
“We have 24 games of match play, it’s a lot,” said McCarthy, who won the PWBA Louisville Open title in early June. “Although I’m in first, I try not to look at scores. It’s something I’m trying to get better at. It just helps me focus and not get too far ahead of myself.”
Her run to the top started during the final round of qualifying and continued in the cashers’ round Thursday morning.
“I just tried to stay in the moment today,” McCarthy said. “I didn’t bowl very well the first two blocks. The third block was really good so I came into today with a new mindset, trying to build off last night.”
Danielle McEwan, who averaged 231 on fresh conditions during qualifying, did the same again during the cashers’ round to move into ninth place. In match play, she then proceeded to win her first seven matches and now sits in third.
“This is exciting, to be able to go head-to-head, and take advantage of bonus pins,” McEwan said. “It’s fun. It makes it much more interesting than bowling for score at the end.”
During the eight-game cashers’ round Thursday morning that determined the 24 players for match play, Shannon O’Keefe built off the momentum of her previous round with a 1,903 block (237.8 average). She finished the block with a 298 game to move into a first-place tie with Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas.
“298 is always fun,” O’Keefe said. “It was a really good pair. I think when you get in a groove like that, your whole pair loosens up because everyone is striking.”
Stefanie Johnson, who led all three qualifying rounds, lost her first six matches, going 1-7 in match play and dropped to eighth. Four-time defending champion Liz Johnson of Palatine, Illinois, who was in fourth place after the cashers’ round, went 3-5 and fell to 14th.
Shalin Zulkifli of Malaysia was disqualified from the U.S. Women’s Open on Thursday evening. During match play, Zulkifli self-reported she had used a ball in competition which she did not properly mark on her Equipment Registration Card. She will be replaced in the field by Kamilah Dammers-Naddall of Aruba.
Competition at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open featured three days of eight-game qualifying rounds. After 24 games, the field was cut to the top 36 players for an eight-game cashers’ round. The 32-game pinfall totals determined the 24 bowlers for round-robin match play.
Match play continues Friday with two more rounds (16 total games). The 56-game totals, including 30 bonus pins for each win in match play, will decide the five players for the stepladder finals.
Xtra Frame, the online bowling channel of the Professional Bowlers Association, is live streaming all preliminary rounds of the U.S. Women’s Open, with CBS Sports Network providing live coverage of the stepladder finals on Saturday, June 30 at 5 p.m. (Eastern).