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Stefanie Johnson grabs lead in opening round of U.S. Women’s Open

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The first-round leader of the U.S. Women’s Open wasn’t determined until the final frames of the final squad were thrown at Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando, Florida, on Monday.

Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas, fired a 225 final game for a 1,843 pinfall total (230.38) to overtake Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, California, who set the bar with a 1,829 total on the day’s opening squad.

Johnson (featured photo) said staying patient was the key.

“I watched other people’s ball reaction because we don’t get a lot of practice on the pairs,” Johnson said. “That was kind of crucial, looking ahead to see where girls were playing and try to stay ahead of any transition.”

Johnson (right) said playing on the third squad of the day, after the 16 games had been rolled on the oil pattern, doesn’t affect what she is trying to accomplish.

“Whatever I can score on,” Johnson said. “I don’t prefer one (squad) or the other. It’s capitalizing when you can, and grinding when you have to.”

Parkin (left) finished with a flourish to post a lead that would hold until Johnson’s final shots.

Tied with four-time defending champion Liz Johnson (right) of Palatine, Illinois, heading into the final game, Parkin fired the lone 300 of the day to lead the block. Johnson finished the first day in 18th place with 1,740.

Parkin said it did take a little time to get going on Monday. At this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, players warm up on practice lanes before starting on their competition pair. That change, plus the fact it is a major, did contribute to make her a little nervous.

“I’ll be honest, to start I was not very relaxed,” Parkin said. “I did not start out bad, but it took me two full games to chill out and relax. I was really nervous, which is crazy. I was almost as nervous as being on a TV show, when I started today. After I relaxed, I was able to get in a groove.”

Parkin started with games of 197 and 186 before peeling off a 245 game. She would average 241 over her final six games.

Aruba’s Thashaina Seraus (left), who bowled her first PWBA event of 2018 last week, had the high block of the day’s second squad and sits in third with a 1,817 total (227.13 average). The runner-up at the 2017 Pepsi PWBA Lincoln Open, she is competing in her first U.S. Open.

“I’m just trying to have a good time and learn everything,” said Seraus. “Every day is a learning experience. At the end of the day, I just want to have fun, make good shots, and if it’s not a good shot, learn from it.”

Competition at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open continues Tuesday with the second of three days of qualifying. After 24 games the field then will be cut to the top 36 players for an eight-game cashers’ round. The 32-game pinfall totals will determine the 24 bowlers for round-robin match play. 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).

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Herbert Bickel

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