By Joe Jacquez
ROHNERT PARK, California – It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. There may be no other way to describe the block Sydney Brummett experienced Thursday as U.S. Women’s Open qualifying got under way at Double Decker Lanes in Rohnert Park, California.
Sydney Brummett opened the tournament with a 289 game and, after the first five games, she averaged 242 and was more than 100 pins ahead of the rest of the field.
But then the Fort Wayne, Indiana, native hit a wall, averaging only 163 over her final three games after switching from urethane to a reactive ball when the lanes transitioned.
Not only was Brummett not surprised about what transpired over the final three games; she saw it coming even before the block started.
"To be honest, its exactly what I expected," Brummett said. "I know that sounds a little strange. You would think you would bowl well the whole block. But the reality is, I'm very confident with urethane. I have been pretty much my entire career."
When Brummett was at junior gold, she said she struggled on the shorter patterns, which is when she first started throwing urethane.
"I just had to learn," Brummett said. "It pushed me to be good at it."
But if urethane is Brummett's strength, she said learning when to get out of urethane and how to do it quickly is her weakness. Which is why she expected herself to struggle when the lanes transitioned later in the block and it became harder to throw urethane.
"I actually told my ball reps yesterday during practice, 'Look, the first five or six games are going to be great and I'm going to need your help knowing how, when and where to move on the lane because I know it's my weakness, knowing when to get out of [urethane]."
But while her scores the last three games weren't great once she started throwing reactive, the last three games were actually a major win for her because she did something she's never been able to do before: She figured out what to do once she put her urethane ball away.
"This is the first time that I have gotten out of urethane and figured it out by the end of the block,” she said. “At one point, I was 200 over during the block but, to me, what mattered is that I left knowing what I should have done those last three games."
Although the scores themselves didn't indicate anything good happened to her the last three games, Brummett is looking at the bigger picture these days instead of giving in to her perfectionist tendencies, even if she still hates to lose.
"I'm young in my career," Brummett said. "It's only going to help me the rest of my career, so it's more of I'm grateful to have a ball rep, Shawn Ryan, help me see that picture clearly by the end of the eight games. I'm 100 over and that's a great way to start the U.S. Women's Open."
Doing it at the U.S. Open adds even more meaning for Brummett.
"I haven't made a cut at the U.S. Open since I was an amateur," she said. "So I'm really just trying to take it one day at a time, knowing that tomorrow holds no value on today. I'm not trying to make up pins. I'm not trying to gain pins. I'm just going to bowl my total score tomorrow, add it to today and then bowl the third day."
Brummett may have finished round one of qualifying in 8th place, but in almost every one of the first five games where she averaged 242, Brummett managed to halt her momentum at some point in the game. Whether it was a missed single-pin spare or a big four after a string of strikes, Brummett said she does feel she left a lot of pins on the lanes, but despite being a perfectionist, her mindset about leaving a lot to be desired has changed.
"I do feel that way and I'm OK with it because I was aware when it happened," Brummett said. "I would throw the shot and I would come back and recognize I shouldn't have thrown it because I wasn't present, and that's why the split happened.
"It wasn't because I missed a move, it was simply because I wasn't ready to throw the shot. I wasn't there, I was somewhere else."
Brummett said the fact that she was able to catch it quickly allowed her to bowl well the rest of the game.
Recently this season, she said she would get stuck in a bad shot, equating it to being stuck in a hamster wheel.
"I would get stuck in it, stuck in that thought pattern, and it just keeps going," Brummett said. "Thankfully I was catching them quickly, those thoughts that were bringing me out of the moment. I was able to put myself back in it and that is what allowed me to bowl well today."
In Game 5 on lanes 13 and 14, Brummett split but then threw the next five in a row.
Brummett said that pair was incredibly different. Someone used a lot of surface to start on that pair, but Brummett didn't know until Jim Callahan saw that she was confused.
"He came down and was like, 'Hi, someone used a lot of grit’ and he said just make your move with the knowledge I just gave you and so I made the move and the picture became clear again," she said.
Brummett said she was sliding into 13 and her target was board 6, but then she ended up sliding into 19, looking at 8.
"It was quite a difference with my hand as well," Brummett said. "I had to get around it a lot more. It still felt very straight to me but because its urethane, I had to get around the ball more to make sure it goes through the pins the right way."
"I don't want to flat 10," Brummett said. "A lot of women tend to get out of urethane because it starts to flat 10 on them but I want to stay in it, so I will move further right and throw it harder or I will get around it more."
Although Brummett ended up throwing 289 in Game 1 on lanes 33 and 34, she said that, "I was joking around with my roommate's husband in the car because if you would have watched my practice, you would have never asked how my block was going to go. I didn't even hit the left-side of the head pin my first shot on my actual pair and then left the 2-8-10 on the other one.
"So I made a good guess, I 7-pinned the first frame and then went sheet for 289 and I didn't honestly know how that game was going to go. I was a little nervous. But in the last three games, I can confidently tell you that I was present and I was executing good shots."
Brummett ended her block fourth on A-squad behind squad and overall leader Cherrie Tan, Erin McCarthy and 2018 U.S. Open champion Liz Kuhlkin.
Daria Pajak (+163, 220.38 average) paced B squad and finished second overall to Tan, in spite of some low scoring games because her really good games were in the high 200s, including a 268 in Game 7 in which she had the front nine.
Stephanie Johnson rebounded from 197 and 177 in games six and seven after a blistering start with a 246 in the final game to take third overall at +151. Shayna Ng joined Tan from Singapore in the top five at +148 with Erin McCarthy (+132), Shannon Pluhowsky (+122), Kuhlkin (+102), Brummett (+100) and Taylor Bulthuis (+90) and DIana Zavjalova (+90) rounding out the top 10.
After a day on the 36-ft pattern, the ladies will take to the lanes on Friday morning at 11 a.m. EST with B squad bowling first on the flat 40-ft oil pattern.