PLANO, Texas - The U.S. Women's Open is notorious for being extremely challenging, both mentally and physically, but Jodi Woessner of Oregon, Ohio, seems to be on autopilot this week at Plano Super Bowl when it comes to enduring the 56-game format and 43-foot oil pattern.
The 47-year-old right-hander has been lined up and comfortable physically, while averaging more than 227 through 40 games at the 2017 edition of the U.S. Women's Open, so reigning in her thoughts and focusing on her pre-shot routine were the keys to her success Friday as she climbed to the top of the standings.
Woessner was in the top 10, and as high as second, through the first four rounds of the event, and she'll now go to sleep for the first time as the overall leader with a 40-game pinfall total of 9,297, just 20 pins ahead of Poland's Daria Pajak (9,277), a recent winner on the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour.
Three-time defending champion Liz Johnson of Deerfield, Illinois, is third with 9,264 and followed by Erin McCarthy of Omaha, Nebraska (9,170), and Shannon O'Keefe of O'Fallon, Illinois (9,150).
The U.S. Women's Open is the third of four majors on the 2017 PWBA Tour schedule and will conclude live on CBS Sports Network on Sunday, starting at noon Eastern. The winner will take home $20,000 and the event's coveted green jacket.
Woessner entered the match-play portion of the event in third place, but a 7-1 record, including seven consecutive wins to start, helped her move to the front of the remaining 24 players.
"I actually was doing everything possible to not look at the scores or standings, since there's still 16 games left," said Woessner, who has made match play at all three PWBA majors this season. "I've been doing that all week, and it has been working. I'm just trying to play my game, and if the pins fall, they fall."
On the opening day of the tournament, Woessner didn't bowl until the final squad, so she'd already watched 16 games of qualifying, in person and online, before taking the lanes.
She knew she'd have to strike a lot to keep up with the scoring pace, which added a little pressure, but she quickly found a look and did her best to take advantage of it. As her own strikes added up, so did her confidence.
Woessner has had some struggles this season, and a few recent realizations about her physical game helped explain why she was leaving so many splits. Being more aware of her shoulder position, even giving herself verbal reminders before throwing each shot, has helped immensely.
Another hurdle for the competitors at an event as long as the U.S. Women's Open is not thinking too far ahead. Even now, there's still two rounds of match scheduled for Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern, and that equates to a lot of bowling and potential pins, before the roster is set for the five-player championship stepladder.
"Earlier in match play, I started to let my mind wander a little too much," Woessner said. "I caught myself looking around to see who else was bowling well and actually thought about the potential for an all-Storm show. When you're not able to have your cell phone as a distraction, you start looking around and thinking too much. I immediately told myself to stop and refocus on the job at hand. It's still far, far too early for that."
Pajak, who rolled one of nine 300 games this week at Plano Super Bowl, posted the highest eight-game block during the opening round of match play Friday, a 1,910 effort.
The 2017 PWBA Greater Detroit Open champion works hard to be a versatile competitor, and that helped her to be successful on the lanes Friday.
"I felt very accomplished when I shot 300 (in the cashers' round) because I was playing it very right, and I was very up the back of the ball, which created a very low axis, and the ball was very controllable," Pajak said. "That's something that was never in my "A" game, so I proved to myself that I can play left and I can play right. That's why today was so consistent."
The 2017 U.S. Women's Open started with 114 competitors, who each bowled 24 games of qualifying over three days, before the field was cut to the top 38 for Friday's eight-game cashers' round.
The 32-game pinfall totals determined the 24 bowlers for match play, and by Saturday night, 56-game totals, including 30 bonus pins for each win in match play, will determine the five players for Sunday's live TV finals.
The championship round of the U.S. Women's Open is one of four being contested Sunday at Plano Super Bowl.
The finals of the 2017 PWBA Orlando Open, PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open and Nationwide PWBA Rochester Open will be taped for broadcast on CBS Sports Network on Aug. 15, Aug. 22 and Aug. 29, respectively.
All qualifying and match play rounds of the 2017 U.S. Women's Open can be watched live on Xtra Frame, the online bowling channel of the Professional Bowlers Association.