February 2, 2023 - Today, we bowled the 3rd day of qualifying on a 39ft flat pattern. Going into today, I was sitting 12th and really wanted a safe game-plan. Our squad was first to bowl at 8am so we didn’t have the luxury of watching the other players bowl on the pattern. Without seeing squads before us and what they were throwing and how they were playing the lanes, I made the decision to play the lanes very safe. I knew there was potential for higher scores throwing my oldie but goodie, Hammer Black Urethane around 8 to 5 on the lane, but if I was wrong it would almost certainly result in a penalty, which is something I couldn't afford this late in the tournament.
I went with the safe plan with my Black Hammer from about 15-9 on the lane. A good shot hit the pocket, a tugged shot went Brooklyn, and if I missed it at the bottom I would leave a 2 pin. As I have mentioned in my US Open - Day 1 blog, I have been having issues getting comfortable early so this really was a perfect plan for me. I was able to stay out of trouble after an awful frame one and actually put a 4 bagger together with a chance to shoot 230. But a swisher 7 had me settle with a satisfying 211 start. I continued with my ini plan and was cruising along alternating strikes and spares until the 7th when I doubled and then I followed it up with a big 4 (whomp-whomp). Game 2 game ended in 188 and I knew I needed to jump into reactive.
Game 3, I moved into 20-8 with the Hammer Black Widow Ghost. It was controlling the back-end, just as I wanted, but I could not get the ball through the pins well, resulting in ending the game with 3 pocket 7-10s, ouch, in 4 frames for another 180 game. Going into game 4, I was doing well staying patient knowing I had plenty of pins on the cut for match-play. However, I really felt the frustration starting to set in, which is never good mid-block. Bill O’Neil made a suggestion of getting out of the bigger core in the 10th frame in game 3 and that was so huge for me because I able to see a much better picture.
I started out with the front 5 and was coasting until I started to get lazy with my hand and I turned a minimum 230 game and maybe a monster game into a 190. Mike Wolfe, our Brunswick Tour Rep, called me to the back and pointed out what my hand was doing, (over rotating it), and my speed variance, (slow ever couple shots), was the reason I felt so up and down....The next few shots I focused on my hand position and speed and finally strung a few strikes to put together 230 with the new Hammer Envy Tour. I was hoping to end the day with the Envy Tour but moving to the next pair ended with never doubling and Big 4'd in the 10th for 180.
The GB4 Pearl game 8 really helped get the ball through the friction spot the Envy tour was reading. The next pair hooked a bit, but I had plenty of pins to make the cut so I just focused on making good shots. I got the pocket dialed in and about the 5th frame I left a Stone 8 pin... cool... but was able to fill the next few frames with strikes. In the 9th, I threw the ball about as bad as I have all day and pulled it left, stay patient and focus, Jake. The ball went so far run away Brooklyn I was scared it would miss the head pin left. Luckily, somehow it ticked the head pin and I had a miraculous 4 bagger heading into the 10th with a chance at 240 which would be enough to currently move me onto the show. I stepped up in the 10th... absolutely posted my shot, loved the shape and left the flattest 8-10 I could imagine, cool. I shot the spare bouncing the 10 pin out in front of the 8 for a deflating 212 to end +8 for the day and +177 overall.
Finishing the final block, I couldn’t decide if I was frustrated about the 8 pin that could of meant a 5 bagger, thankful for the Brooklyn to connect the 4 bagger, or bummed I 8-10'd to lose ten additional pins that could've put me closer to the top of the standings. Ultimately, it was a huge sigh of relief to make the first cut of the year and just get the season started off on the proper foot. Starting the season with a Major is tough but if I can learn something every shot, I can only grow into a better bowler.
Overall, I did exactly what I wanted to do, which was stay even with a chance at gaining plus pins if the lanes allowed it. I was super proud of my patience, openness to adapting to transition, and ability to grind when I didn’t have a ball reaction I was comfortable with. I am going to give myself a B- today. I did pass the test of making the cut and surviving this pattern, but I left too much out there by not committing to each and every shot.
My goals for the first day of match play is to build on my successes from the first 3 days and continue to work on getting more comfortable early and getting into the flow of the block quicker. 8am practice, 16 games, and 24 bowlers... let's go, it's going to be a long day.