NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The U.S. Women's Open has been synonymous with challenging conditions and a premium on execution throughout its history, and Tuesday's opening round of qualifying at the 2019 edition proved no different at Texas Star Lanes.
Only 15 of the 108 players in the field for the second major championship of the 2019 Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour season averaged 200 or better on the first of four oil patterns for the week, and Team USA's Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, California, showed she's ready for the challenge by leading the first eight-game block with a 1,745 total, a 218.13 average.
Parkin edged 2019 United States Bowling Congress Queens champion Dasha Kovalova of Ukraine for the overall lead. Kovalova finished with 1,740.
Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas, is third with 1,734, while Indonesia's Tannya Roumimper and six-time U.S. Women's Open champion Liz Johnson of Palatine, Illinois, round out the top five with scores of 1,682 and 1,670, respectively.
Defending champion Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York, is 16th after the first round with a 1,594 total.
Parkin's mindset coming into Tuesday's opening round on the flat 37-foot lane condition was to put herself in position to rely on her spare shooting and take advantage when she could. Parkin rolled games of 212, 214, 190, 245, 174, 237, 239 and 234 on her way to the top of the standings.
"I knew coming into today they were going to be really hard," said Parkin, a 10-time Team USA member. "My whole mindset was to get nine and make my spares. That's really what I focused on today. Making sure I was staying consistent and leaving spares I could make."
Bowling on the second of three squads on the day, Parkin was able to adjust her strategy by watching the ball motion of her competitors during Tuesday's first squad.
"I was able to watch A Squad and noticed that playing to the right looked really tricky," said Parkin, the 2011 USBC Queens champion. "Some people could make it work, but it quickly went away. My game plan was to stay away from that and move farther in to start. I was able to stay around the same spot and use the same ball the whole time, while manipulating things a little bit from pair to pair."
Parkin has had a successful stretch leading into this week's event. She's advanced to two of the last three stepladder finals on the PWBA Tour, finishing as the runner-up at the PWBA Sonoma County Open and claiming fourth place at last week's PWBA Fountain Valley Open.
The 37-year-old right-hander isn't in a hurry to get too far ahead of herself this week, though, knowing each day will offer a different obstacle.
Each of the three qualifying rounds at the 2019 U.S. Women's Open will feature a different lane condition, and a fourth oil pattern will be introduced during Friday's cashers' round and be used throughout the duration of the event.
"This definitely is a marathon, not a sprint," Parkin said. "With a new pattern tomorrow, I kind of need to forget about today and regroup to figure out a game plan for tomorrow. I'm going to try and just keep things simple, take it one shot at a time and see what happens."
Players will return to Texas Star Lanes on Wednesday for the second round of qualifying, starting at 11 a.m. Eastern. Qualifying consists of three-eight game blocks over three days.
After 24 games, the field will be cut to the top 36 players for the cashers' round, which will include an additional eight games to determine the 24 players for round-robin match play.
Match play will begin Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern with the first of three eight-game rounds. Match play resumes Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern with the final two blocks, including a position round. The five finalists will be determined by total pinfall, including bonus pins, for 56 games.
The stepladder finals will take place Sunday and air live on CBS Sports Network at 5 p.m. Eastern, awarding the champion the $20,000 top prize and coveted green jacket.
Each round of the 2019 event leading up to the stepladder finals will be broadcast live at BowlTV.com.