The fact Stefanie Johnson
is quite comfortable competing at Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando, Florida, the site of this year’s U.S. Women’s Open and her self-described home away from home, was a big advantage. But a surprise visitor likely helped push her to the top on Friday.
Johnson, of McKinney, Texas, grabbed the No. 1 seed for Saturday’s finals of the U.S. Women’s Open, which will be televised live on CBS Sports Network at 5 p.m. Eastern. Erin McCarthy of Omaha, Nebraska, is the No. 2 seed for the second consecutive year.
Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, is the No. 3 seed while Shannon O’Keefe of O’Fallon, Illinois, winner of the last two majors, is the fourth seed and will face Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York, in the opening match.
Featured photo from left: Stefanie Johnson, Erin McCarthy, Danielle McEwan, Shannon O’Keefe and Liz Kuhlkin.
“I’m very comfortable here, it’s my home away from home,” said Johnson (left), who bowled and worked at Boardwalk Bowl while attending the University of Central Florida. “I’m really at a loss for words. It feels surreal. I’m obviously seeking my first major and if I could do it here on my old home turf, that would be the icing on the cake.”
That does not mean it was an easy road for Johnson. Tied for the lead after the cashers’ round on Thursday, she went 1-7 in the opening round of match play to drop to eighth place.
“Last night was tough, I was very frustrated,” Johnson said. “I got back to the room and I wrote in my journal. I believe in positive thinking and I wrote all these positive things about how grateful I am for this opportunity. It got my mind set in the right place today.”
She also had a surprise visitor show up during Game 2 of Friday morning’s match-play round. She turned around to see her husband, Chris Johnson, the 2004 Professional Bowlers Association Rookie of the Year, sitting behind her.
“This calmness came over me,” Johnson said. “I just thought, ‘It’s OK, let’s just bowl and whatever happens today is going to happen.’ I have my family and all my support at home .. it just made all the difference. It was such an amazing surprise.”
Kuhlkin (right) making the TV show also might be considered somewhat of a surprise, only because she seemed to flirt with the cut line each round. She was in 20th place after the cashers’ round but continued to creep up through match play.
“It feels amazing to be back in this position, especially having to bowl my way up,” said Kuhlkin, who made the USBC Queens show in 2015. “It has been an incredible day. I’m exhausted, but it’s all worth it.”
In the fourth game of the final match-play round, Kuhlkin made a big jump with a 299 game.
“When you have a good look, you have to take advantage of it,” Kuhlkin said. “I haven’t had the front 11 on tour in a while, so I was definitely nervous.”
Four-time defending champion Liz Johnson (left) of Palatine, Illinois, tried to make a charge but fell just short. Since winning the event in 1996, Johnson has made the finals of the U.S. Women’s Open 10 of the 16 times it has been held.
“I battled every single day,” Johnson said. “It is what it is. It’s a tough tournament, tough conditions. I didn’t feel like I, physically, was 100 percent, but I can’t hang my head. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to win everything. “
Competition at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open consisted of three days of eight-game qualifying rounds before 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. The 56-game totals, including 30 bonus pins for each win in match play, decided the five players for the stepladder finals.
Erin McCarthy climbs into U.S. Women’s Open lead
Stefanie Johnson holds U.S. Women’s Open lead after qualifying
Stefanie Johnson retains lead after two rounds at U.S. Women’s Open
Stefanie Johnson grabs lead in opening round of U.S. Women’s Open
USBC Hall of Famer Lucy Sandelin ready for U.S. Women’s Open
Danaka Heekin swaps music trips for shot at PWBA Tour
Liz Johnson seeks record-tying fifth consecutive U.S. Women’s Open title
Jordan Richard wins first career title at PWBA Greater Harrisburg Open
Erin McCarthy wins first career title at PWBA Louisville Open
Josie Barnes wins second career title at 2018 PWBA East Hartford Open
Shannon O’Keefe wins 2018 USBC Queens
Danielle McEwan wins 2018 PWBA Fountain Valley Open
Shannon O’Keefe captures seventh PWBA title in Sonoma County Open
Singapore’s Shayna Ng wins first career PWBA title at Las Vegas Open
2018 PWBA Tour Schedule & Champions
2018 U.S. Women’s Open – Standings after Match Play Round 3
Players with position, hometown and 56-game total, including bonus pins (30 for each win, 15 for a tie); top 5 advance to the stepladder finals; places 6-24 show earnings; n-non PWBA member
1, Stefanie Johnson, McKinney, Texas, 14-10-0, 12,834
2, Erin McCarthy, Omaha, Neb., 17-6-1, 12,800
3, Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., 17-7-0, 12,721
4, Shannon O’Keefe, O’Fallon, Ill., 13-11-0, 12,646
5, Liz Kuhlkin, Schenectady, N.Y., 16-8-0, 12,635
6, Tannya Roumimper, Indonesia, 14-9-1, 12,566, $5,200
7, Jen Higgins, Westerville, Ohio, 14-10-0, 12,458, $4,750
8, Missy Parkin, Laguna Hills, Calif., 13-11-0, 12,451, $4,300
9, Sandra Gongora, Mexico, 12-12-0, 12,442, $4,100
10, Liz Johnson, Palatine, Ill., 10-14-0, 12,422, $4,000
11, Shannon Sellens (n), Copiague, N.Y., 12-11-1, 12,416, $3,900
12, Clara Guerrero, Colombia, 12-12-0, 12,280, $3,800
13, Jordan Richard, Tipton, Mich., 10-14-0, 12,248, $3,700
14, Siti Safiyah, Malaysia, 12-12-0, 12,201, $3,600
15, Jodi Woessner, Oregon, Ohio, 14-9-1, 12,198, $3,500
16, Li Jane Sin, Malaysia, 11-13-0, 12,170, $3,400
17, Juliana Franco (n), Colombia, 8-15-1, 12,158, $3,350
18, Urara Himeji, Japan, 10-14-0, 12,140, $3,300
19, Shannon Pluhowsky, Dayton, Ohio, 10-14-0, 12,074, $3,250
20, Brandi Branka, Fairview Heights, Ill., 10-14-0, 12,044, $3,200
21, Thashaina Seraus (n), Aruba, 7-17-0, 11,933, $3,150
22, Daria Kovalova, Ukraine, 11-12-1, 11,888, $3,100
23, Giselle Poss, Nashville, Tenn., 11-13-0, 11,879, $3,050
24, Kamilah Dammers-Naddall, Aruba, 6-18-0, 11,401, $3,000.
2018 U.S. Women’s Open – Standings after Match Play Round 2
Players with position, hometown and 48-game total, including bonus pins (30 for each win, 15 for a tie); n-non PWBA member