A new champion arises

Singapore bowler New Hui Fen receiving the prestigious Smithfield PWBA Tour Championship trophy yesterday, after defeating compatriot Cherie Tan 258-235 in the final. New was also the Rookie of the Year.
Singapore bowler New Hui Fen receiving the prestigious Smithfield PWBA Tour Championship trophy yesterday, after defeating compatriot Cherie Tan 258-235 in the final. New was also the Rookie of the Year.PHOTO: SINGAPORE BOWLING

Hui Fen is the first S'porean to win PWBA Tour C'ship, second to win a Major this year

New Hui Fen timed her maiden Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour victory to perfection.

Not only did the 24-year-old bowler clinch one of the four Major titles of a PWBA Tour season, but she also became the first Singaporean to lay her hands on the prestigious season-ending Smithfield PWBA Tour Championship trophy.

No wonder she was wiping away joyous tears when she was interviewed by the CBS Sports Network after winning the final - against fellow Singapore national team-mate Cherie Tan - early yesterday morning (Singapore time) in Midlothian, Virginia.

"It was quite surprising," said New, who also picked up the Tour's Rookie of the Year award on reaching the event's semi-final on Saturday - the first non-American Rookie of the Year since Cara Honeychurch of Australia in 2000.

"(I thought that) if I aimed to win the Tour Championship, then the Rookie of the Year award would come quite easily.

HARD WORK PAYS OFF

It's testament to where they stand globally. I always tell the team that this is a marathon - the main focus is to work on their game. All tournaments are part and parcel of development and growth.

JESSIE PHUA,Singapore Bowling Federation president, on the achievements of New and Tan.

"It's great that everything worked out fine."

Besides the trophy, New also pocketed US$20,000 (S$27,200) for the win on the United States-based Tour, while second-placed Tan takes home US$10,000.

Featuring the top 16 players of the season, the Championship marked the end of the 14-stop PWBA Tour season, which resumed last year after a 12-year hiatus.

New, seeded 11th for the tournament, opened the final with five successive strikes, and when the 16th-seeded Tan missed her spare in the third frame, New sensed that the trophy was hers for the taking.

She said simply: "I was just keeping my flow and being easy with my shoulder and swing."

She eventually claimed the victory with a 258-235 win which Tan admitted was not close.

"She was too busy striking," the 28-year-old quipped. She also attributed her loss to rushing her bowls in the first few frames which impacted her accuracy.

  • 1 New Hui Fen is the first Singaporean to win the PWBA season ender.


    2 Two of the four PWBA majors this season have been won by Singaporeans. Bernice Lim was crowned the USBC Queens champion in May.


    3 Singaporean winners on the PWBA tour this term, including Cherie Tan's Sacramento Open title in May.

Tan and New had both staged upsets in the semi-finals against the first and second seeds respectively.

American first seed Liz Johnson and Colombian second seed Rocio Restrepo immediately qualified for the semi-finals, while New and Tan each faced three other opponents in the preliminary rounds.

In the semi-finals, however, Tan edged out Johnson 199-195, while New defeated Restrepo 213-189.

"It's both an advantage and a disadvantage," New said of having to play more qualifying games than their semi-final opponents.

"It was a good thing that we had to start from rock bottom and climb all the way up, so we knew the lanes better, even though we faced the risk of getting knocked out."

New's victory marked a successful season for Singapore women bowlers on the PWBA Tour.

Of the four Major events this year, two have been won by Singaporeans - the other being Bernice Lim who won the USBC Queens in May. And while Tan missed out on the Tour Championship title, she won the Sacramento Open in May.

"They deserve to be up there," said Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua.

"It's testament to where they stand globally.

"I always tell the team that this is a marathon - the main focus is to work on their game. All tournaments are part and parcel of development and growth."

As for New, she revealed the inspiration behind her victory - none other than Singapore's lone Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling.

"I think this win will impact many other players like how Joseph Schooling has impacted all of Singapore with his win in swimming at the Olympics," she said.

"What he said was really true, 'Even people from the smallest country can do great things'. So, I believe our neighbouring countries will look at us and say, 'Wow, if they can do it, so can we'."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2016, with the headline 'A new champion arises'. Print Edition | Subscribe