By Joe Jacquez
ROHNERT PARK, California – The highest of highs and the lowest of lows were on display during B-squad’s third round of qualifying on Saturday night at Double Decker Lanes.
Moving day is all about the players that are on the fringe, fighting to stay in the cut or get into the cut. The 71-player field, reduced down from 72 after Brittney Holloman dropped out, was cut to the top-24.
Breanna Clemmer certainly experienced an emotional high. The PWBA Tour rookie entered the day at 92 under for the tournament in 31st place. But, the Rookie of the Year candidate, who resides in Clover, South Carolina, began her block with a 248 and never shot below 193.
After a 203 and a 224 in games six and seven respectively, Clemmer shot 224 in game seven, and in the most important game of her bowling career, she shot 236 to make the cut as the number at +54.
Coming up in the clutch meant everything to Clemmer. To finally make the cut again at the most prestigious event on the PWBA Tour, knowing she has given herself a chance to win $ 100,000 dollars.
“It makes me very emotional,” Clemmer said. “The last couple of weeks have been very hard, missing cuts and not cashing… to know that I am good enough to be out here and the past couple weeks have been really hard mentally and I think I was able to fight through and show who I am.”
On the other side of the coin, Stephanie Johnson, a veteran who sat in fourth place, on the show if the tournament ended that night, bowled her way off the show with a 40-under block, including a 159 game when it mattered most.
It was equally as shocking as it was heartbreaking to watch. At the conclusion of play, Johnson could be seen sitting on the red swivel chairs with her head down, crying with her hands in her face.
Shannon O’Keefe, Taylor Bailey, Lauren Pate and many others were seen consoling Johnson, equally as devastated for her.
As the alternate, Johnson has to stick around just in case anybody drops out, but she seemed in better spirits Sunday, at least from afar.
As all the players have said all week, qualifying is just about making the cut to match play, where the winner of a game earns 30 bonus pins across 24 games.
Knowing all that was at stake for her and all the players on the bubble, Clemmer said it was definitely stressful, but she is confident in how to push past the pressure and perform when it matters most.
“I just have to remind myself that anything can happen and anyone can be beat,” Clemmer said. “Sometimes I think that I am just bowling the lanes and not bowling the person and that calms me down a lot more.
“It’s definitely stressful, but I just have to continue to remind myself of who I am, continue to work hard, and I can do it,” she said.
Clemmer, who entered the week second in the Rookie of the Year race with 58,150 points, behind only Stephanie Zavala (66,550) and well ahead of Maria Bulanova (42,202.5), has put herself in great position to win the award with only the Fall Classic left on the schedule.
Normally in the situation she found herself in Saturday night, needing to strike to move around players and make the cut, Clemmer said she would get nervous and overwhelmed, but the support she had behind her provided a needed sense of calm.
“But I had Jordan [Richard] and I had my friends behind me cheering for me and it calmed me down a lot and I knew that no matter what happened, they were going to be proud of me no matter what,” Clemmer said.
Clemmer entered Sunday’s final round of qualifying riding high, but she went 152 under for the block on the 42-foot pattern and enters match play still in 24th place at 98 under for the tournament.
Speaking of Zavala, she had a big block on Saturday night, going from 11th place at 28 over all the way up to second place. The Downey, California native went +312 over for the block shooting games of 231, 232, 289, 183, 242, 279, 225 and 231.
Kelly Kulick almost got back to even thanks to games of 258, 245, 211, 213, 221 and 268, but games of 170 and 182 doomed her and she finished in 38th place at 81-under for the tournament. She certainly experienced the emotional highs and lows, visibly upset or confused after a bad shot and relieved and excited after a great game that gave her a chance.
Oh, the joys and the detestation of a grind at the U.S. Open.
Diandra Asbaty, Crystal Elliot, Liz Kuhlkin, Wendy Bartaire-Jimenez France and Sydney Brummett were among the players just outside of the cut line. Brummett and Bartaire-Jimenez were the final players to be in the plus before the first cut, both at +4. Maria Jose Rodriguez was the first player under for the tournament, at -9 in 31st place.
The ladies competed on the 46-foot pattern and the overall scoring pace was certainly higher than the brutal condition the players faced during Friday’s second round on the 40-foot flat pattern.
The emotional highs and lows were felt throughout the building, but two of the best examples were certainly Clemmer and Johnson.