Bowling: Striking pins off the Park

South Korean top seed Park Jong Woo (above) lived up to his top billing and clinched the Singapore International Open title.
South Korean top seed Park Jong Woo (above) lived up to his top billing and clinched the Singapore International Open title.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI
Park cited his experience as a decisive factor in edging him past Singapore's runner-up Timothy Tham (above) in the men's Open final.
Park cited his experience as a decisive factor in edging him past Singapore's runner-up Timothy Tham (above) in the men's Open final.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

South Korean duo sweep S'pore Open prizes as Timothy Tham finishes a noteworthy 2nd

Asian Games champion Park Jong Woo of South Korea lived up to his billing as pre-tournament favourite by winning the Singapore International Open comfortably yesterday.

But there was a silver lining for the hosts with the performance of teenager Timothy Tham, who finished runner-up to Park in the men's Open final.

Timothy, 17, had earned his spot in the final by topping a three-bowler semi-final. He registered 224 pinfalls to beat compatriot Marcus Kiew and Malaysian Timmy Tan, who both finished on 209 pinfalls.

But surpassing top seed Park, 25, proved a bridge too far for the Republic Polytechnic student. The Korean trotted to an easy 201-155 win in the final to lift his first trophy of the year and $20,000 in prize winnings. Timothy pocketed $10,000 in prize money as the runner-up.

Jung Da Wun made it a Korean double by beating her compatriot Baek Seung Ja 239-196 in the women's Open final at SingaporeBowling @ Rifle Range.

She regained the title she had won in 2012, which was also the last time South Korea swept the honours in both main events.

Appearing in the final on his first visit to Singapore, Park, who rolled with a ball sporting a SpongeBob SquarePants design, admitted he felt nervous at the start, needing four frames to find his first strike.

He said: "I felt more confident and composed after the fifth game. I think I have more experience than him (Timothy), that's why I felt more comfortable out there. And maybe it's because he felt a bit tired after the semi-final too."

The pressure of competing in the biggest final of his fledgling career affected Timothy's game, which saw two balls land in the gutter in the fourth and 10th frames.

He said with a laugh: "I was stunned but relaxed after that. After all, I can't do worse than a gutter."

Nonetheless, the sports and leisure management student, who won the Singapore National Bowling Championship last November, drew plenty of positives from his performance.

He said: "It's satisfying to get to this stage (the final). I had to make a lot of changes to my game. Mentally, my psychologist worked out a simple plan for me so that I could shut out the distractions.

"Usually I would feel mentally stressed or tired. But this time, I felt the most relaxed I've been throughout the competition. This is the biggest final I've been to, nothing else comes close. I thought I could have won it and thrown better in the last few frames but I guess that's when my inexperience kicked in."

Despite the Koreans' domination, Jung praised the hosts' quality, saying: "The Singapore team are the closest (in standards) to us, we are strong rivals."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2016, with the headline 'Striking pins off the Park'. Print Edition | Subscribe