With the heat of the spotlights on her and numerous cameras trained on her every move, Bernice Lim found herself in uncharted territories yesterday at The Orleans Bowling Centre in Las Vegas.
Never before had the bowler contended for a title in such an environment - in the backyard of some of the world's best bowlers, and with the final broadcast live to millions on cable television.
But backed by her poster-waving national team-mates and with a Rubik's Cube in hand to keep herself calm during the competition, the 25-year-old beat top seed Sandra Andersson of Sweden 248-223 to lift the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Queens title.
In winning the first major of the 2016 Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) tour - it was aired live on America's CBS Sports - the Singaporean collected the US$20,000 (S$27,500) winner's cheque, as well as an apt tiara to go with being crowned queen of the lanes.
Lim, who had gone into the step- ladder finals as the second seed, also beat American Danielle McEwan - the top-ranked bowler on the World Bowling Tour (WBT) - 238-221 for a spot in the championship match.
"It was quite nerve racking," she told The Straits Times in a phone interview after securing her biggest individual title.
"There were the lights, the cameras, and because it was live we only had 25 seconds to take each shot.
"All these little things made it quite pressuring and the crowd was quite intense too. But I had my team-mates whom I looked to for encouragement so that helped a lot."
Lim is just the sixth non-American - and first Singaporean - to win the prestigious event in its 55-year history.
The 256-strong field featured 26 of the WBT's top 30 keglers.
Unlike most of her team-mates, who have been competing in various PWBA tournaments in America for the past month, the recent Nanyang Technological University sports science and management graduate is on a different competition schedule and flew to Las Vegas specifically for the USBC Queens.
Said Lim, who began her match against Andersson with six straight strikes: "A lot of the players here are professionals. Coming into this, I'm like a nobody... and I have a lot of ground to make up.
"(But) I did quite a bit of preparation over the last few weeks. I just focused on my own game and what I can control, which is making good shots and staying calm."
Her win was followed up quickly with another Singapore victory.
Team-mate Cherie Tan edged past American Shannon Pluhowsky 208-205 in the Sacramento Open, which held its final on the same night but will be telecast on June 21.
Playing the last of four scheduled finals yesterday, Tan said the team's month-long travels competing across four PWBA tournaments in the US has taught her much.
The novel format of having bowlers wait for weeks in between the qualifying rounds and the step- ladder final - there was almost a two-week gap in Tan's case - was also something to adapt to.
"We haven't really gone for trips where you compete straight on for four weeks," said Tan, who earned US$10,000 for the win. "It's a new experience for us.
"You learn a lot every week. When you bowl and you don't do well, you have to reflect quickly and pick up from where you left off."
Fellow Singapore bowler New Hui Fen, who made two step-ladder finals, posted third-place finishes in the Sonoma County Open and the Sacramento event.
The women's team will return home to compete in the Singapore International Open, which begins today and lasts until June 12. It is held at the SingaporeBowling @Rifle Range at Temasek Club.