By Joe Jacquez
While Danielle McEwan enters this week’s U.S. Women’s Open as both the event’s defending champion and the only player who has won two of the last three PWBA Tour stops — the Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles in Houston with partner EJ Tackett, and the PWBA Spokane Open last week — there is something unique about Double Decker Lanes, the site of this week’s U.S. Women’s Open, that has another player riding a wave of confidence: Missy Parkin.
While the 39-year-old veteran has gone the distance at a major, having won her only career PWBA Tour title at the 2011 USBC Queens in Syracuse, N.Y., it’s Parkin's success at Double Decker Lanes that can't be overlooked when considering who might walk away with an historic first place prize of $100,000 this week.
At the 2019 Sonoma County Open, Parkin clobbered the field from the opening shot of qualifying through the last ball of match play, finishing 288 pins ahead of Shayna Ng of Singapore to claim the top seed for the stepladder finals. Parkin would lose to Ng, 259-237, in the title match, but it’s clear Parkin has and can dominate again at Double Decker.
In fact, Parkin had bowled numerous times at the center before the PWBA came there and said she always made the cut and cashed.
"They always play really difficult, and I like them when they are hard, so it puts a premium on shot making and spare shooting, which is what my game is really all about, so I feel really confident going into this week," said Parkin.
Double Decker put down some new lanes this week, and after Wednesday's practice sessions Parkin was not yet sure if that will impact the way the center plays. But she said her knowledge of the topography of the center both pair to pair and lane to lane still will be an advantage regardless of how the new lanes affect play.
"The topography affects the ball motion," Parkin said. "At some centers you go to, every right lane hooks more. That has not been the case in this building previously."
Parkin said some right lanes will hook more and some will not, while some left lanes will hook more and some won't, depending on the pair. But she said it isn't just the pairs that play differently.
"Moving across the house, pair to pair is totally different, which makes it hard, but lane to lane is different too," she said.
Whether or not the new lanes change anything about the way the center has played for Parkin in the past, that prior success at Double Decker has her feeling confident -- especially after Wednesday's practice sessions on three different patterns.
"This year actually was probably the easiest to select my bowling balls," Parkin said. "At the U.S. Open, making that ball selection usually is a little nerve-wracking, but today I didn't have any issues. It was really clear to me, so that also makes me feel really good.
Parkin feels like there is more room for error on pattern number three, a 46-foot pattern, compared to the other two patterns and thinks that it will be the highest scoring. What was noticeable, regardless of the pattern, was the amount of times players carried light pocket hits. The pins would dance more than normal.
"In general, the carry was a little different today," Parkin said. "I felt like on all the patterns, just the way the pins were flying, it was definitely different than normal."
But, in the end, Parkin said she thinks straighter will be greater on all the patterns.
"When they're hard, that is what the case is," Parkin said. "Keeping your angles straighter through the fronts for sure and being able to really control your ball motion is really important in general at the U.S. Open."
But it’s not just her track record at Double Decker that has her feeling so confident. She also feels like her game is in the right place.
"I feel like [my game] is definitely top level," Parkin said. "I feel like my shot repeatability is very good and my spare shooting is very good and all of that is necessary at the U.S. Open."