Bryanna Coté leads after two rounds at 2021 U.S. Women's Open Article Image
Standings: Round 1 | Round 2

The U.S. Women's Open is both feared and respected for its long format and some of the most challenging lane conditions players can face.

In its current form, that means nearly a week of competition on four oil patterns of varying length, volume and difficulty.

It's a true test of endurance and versatility, and being the one who successfully navigates all the twists and turns this week at Double Decker Lanes will come with an unprecedented reward - a $100,000 top prize.

Not thinking about that potentially life-changing number might be as difficult as the flat 40-foot oil pattern the competitors faced Friday in the second round of the 2021 edition of the storied event.

Two-time Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour champion Bryanna Coté of Tucson, Arizona, was able to handle both challenges, and while the performance may have felt like an erratic game of Tetris, she displayed the poise and skill of a chess grandmaster.

The 35-year-old right-hander turned in the highest eight-game total of the day and surged to the top of the 71-player standings with a 16-game pinfall total of 3,370, a 210.63 average.

Coté will enter the final day of qualifying at Double Decker Lanes nearly 50 pins ahead of Poland's Daria Pajak, who is second with 3,323. Pajak, the runner-up at the 2017 U.S. Women's Open, is followed by six-time U.S. Women's Open champion Liz Johnson of Niagara Falls, New York (3,293), Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas (3,288), and Shayna Ng of Singapore (3,275).

"It's the U.S. Open, so you definitely expect to see a flat pattern at some point, and you know it will require some of your best shots and making all your spares," Coté said. "Patterns like this don't scare me, though, because they're supposed to be hard. It's just about keeping the ball in the pocket and taking advantage when the strikes do come."

All rounds of qualifying and match play are being broadcast on through Monday night, and the event will conclude live on CBS Sports Network on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern.

With four drastically different oil patterns now being the standard at the U.S. Women's Open, the players know one or two may play to their strengths, while others might require a get-all-you-can-but-be-OK-with-it plan of attack.

For many, the latter might describe Friday's offering, and that certainly was on the truer side for Coté while strategizing for the week. Through two days of competition, though, the standings say otherwise.

While her expectations were different for each of the first two oil patterns, her eight-game scores nearly were identical - 1,686 and 1,684.

Collectively, 27 players averaged more than 200 on the event-opening 36-foot oil pattern Thursday, while only nine competitors found themselves on the north side of par Friday.

"I was a little disappointed yesterday because of how I started, but I was proud of how I rebounded and finished the day," said Coté, who started Thursday's round with a 155 game. "Coming into today, I didn't think I would bowl as well as I did. I knew it would be a grind, so being even or a little plus would've been OK. I kept the ball in the pocket, took advantage when I could and didn't split a lot. I'm very happy with today."

The lane conditions aren't the only variables the bowlers are facing this week.

The 2021 U.S. Women's Open is the first event being held on Double Decker's newly installed lane panels, and the pins are relatively new, too, Coté noted. All of that means pin carry may be a little tougher and figuring out the pattern transition will take more patience and potentially more guesswork.

But, it's the U.S. Women's Open, and the bowlers wouldn't expect anything less, which has created a love-hate relationship with the sport's most prestigious event. With so much going on, there's almost not enough time to think about the monumental money on the line this time around.

"I bowl to win," Coté said. "I want to win a major, and I want to win the U.S. Women's Open, but if I'm thinking about the money the whole time, that means I'm not focused. This event can be overwhelming because of all the games and factors, so it's about managing the different tasks and not getting too far ahead. If I'm fortunate enough to get there and win, it would be amazing to see my name on that prize check."

Qualifying at Double Decker Lanes will resume Saturday at 2 p.m. Eastern with the final round of competition that will include the entire field, this time on a 46-foot oil pattern.

Following Saturday's third round, the top 24 players, based on their 24-game pinfall totals, will advance to a fourth round and fourth lane condition.

Those 24 competitors will bowl eight games Sunday morning, and they'll take their 32-game pinfall totals into round-robin match play Sunday evening and throughout the day Monday.

There will be 30 bonus pins awarded for each win during the three eight-game rounds of match play, and the 56-game pinfall totals will determine the five players for the championship stepladder.

Along with the record-setting prize check, the winner will take home the iconic U.S. Women's Open trophy and coveted green jacket.

The 2021 U.S. Women's Open is the 17th event on this year's PWBA Tour schedule and the second of three majors.

Defending U.S. Women's Open champion Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, who won last week's Spokane Open, finished Friday's second round in 21st place with a 3,173 total. She was 33rd after Round 1.

With one round of qualifying remaining, PWBA major champion Maria José Rodriguez of Colombia is in the 24th position with a 3,147 total, a 196.69 average.