Before competition began, Sam Cooley’s one word to describe the U.S. Open was “tough.”

Through two rounds and 16 games of qualifying at the U.S. Open presented by GoBowling, Cooley has made the sport's most difficult tournament look anything but tough. 

Cooley leads the 108-player field with a total pinfall of 3,563 (+363). The Australian has averaged more than 222, out-averaging the field by over five pins per game, across two patterns at Indianapolis’ Royal Pin Woodland.

“I'm just trying to tell myself to be patient,” Cooley said. “After two days, I have a pretty, pretty big cushion [on the cut line]. It’s a good feeling, but at the same time, I'm going to focus solely on the present moment and not let anything surrounding me get in the way. Because as soon as you start doing that, you're going to go backwards.”

Andrew Anderson, 2022 U.S. Open champion Anthony Simonsen, Matt Russo and 17-year-old Landin Jordan round out the top five after Tuesday's second round.

Jordan, the 2022 PBA Jr. U18 Boys National Champion, posted the tournament’s highest block this evening. He shot 1,884 (+284) during A-squad’s eight-game evening round, rising to +225 overall.

“It's kind of unbelievable honestly to know that I have the high block of the U.S. Open so far, that's really a dream right there,” Jordan said. 

Jordan said his goal coming into the block was to catch his twin brother, Griffin, who is currently in 30th place at +78. The two-handed Jordan has bowled qualifying on the pair next to Jason Belmonte.

“I've never actually competed on the lanes with Belmo, so to be out there competing with him and knowing that I can compete is one of the coolest things for me,” Jordan said.

Belmonte, seeking to win a second career U.S. Open and become the first player to win all five majors twice each, rose from 67th place to 16th with a 1,766 (+166) block on Tuesday evening.

The second round’s 43-foot pattern forced most of the left-handers in the field to hook the lane with reactive equipment, which played into Russo’s strengths.

“I feel like on the left side lane, I'm the best at hooking it,” Russo said. “That's just a confidence thing. It doesn't make me better than anybody else. But in my head, if I can get there, I feel like I'm going to pretty much out-bowl everybody on my side of the lane.”

Russo, while two-handed, bowled with his thumb in the ball until just before this tournament. He said coaches have recommended the change in the past, but he didn’t commit to it until his disappointing performance at the season’s first event.

“I think it was just getting my ball to do the same thing twice, or at least feeling like it can,” Russo said of the decision. “I feel like I execute better because I'm more confident in what my hands want to do and the balls I'm going to pick. But really, it came down to getting less axis rotation, a little bit more tilt and my rev rate went up. My ball’s hook a little more now, which on our side is pretty important because we don't see as much traffic. They get tighter down the lane, so if anything, you need that earlier roll to get the ball going.”

The U.S. Open resumes Wednesday with the final round of qualifying. Following Wednesday’s competition, the field will be trimmed to the top 36 players.

Bill O’Neill, who won the season’s first event at the PBA Players Championship presented by Snickers and the 2010 U.S. Open, is the current cut at +51.

Simonsen, looking to win a second U.S. Open in three years, and C-squad will kick off the final round of qualifying at 8 a.m. Eastern. Cooley and Anderson take the lanes at 1 p.m. with A-squad, while Russo and B-squad wait until 6 p.m. to attack the flat 49-foot pattern.

All rounds will be livestreamed on BowlTV.

More information on the 2024 U.S. Open is available here.

Round 2 Leaders

  1. Sam Cooley, 3,563 (+363)
  2. Andrew Anderson, 3,473 (+273)
  3. Anthony Simonsen, 3,439 (+239)
  4. Matt Russo, 3,425 (+225)
  5. Landin Jordan, 3,414 (+214)
  6. Matt Sanders, 3,389 (+189)
  7. David Krol, 3,371 (+171)
  8. Marshall Kent, 3,370 (+170)
  9. Jake Peters, 3,343 (+143)
  10. Tom Daugherty, 3,342 (+142)

Full standings are available here.

U.S. Open Schedule

Royal Pin Woodland | Indianapolis, IN

All times Eastern

Wednesday, Jan. 31 | Qualifying Round 3 (eight games)
8 a.m. — C-squad
1 p.m. — A-squad
6 p.m. — B-squad

Top 36 players advance

Thursday, Feb. 1 | Qualifying and Match Play (eight games)
8 a.m. — practice session
10 a.m. — Qualifying Round 4

Top 24 players advance

5 p.m. — Match Play Round 1

Friday, Feb. 2 | Match Play
10 a.m. — Match Play Round 2
5 p.m. — Match Play Round 3

Top five players advance to stepladder finals

Saturday, Feb. 3
4 p.m. — PBA Elite League Round 2 Matches — Tickets

Waco Wonders vs. Motown Muscle; Portland Lumberjacks vs. New Jersey KingPins

Sunday, Feb. 4

4 p.m. — U.S. Open Finals — Sold out