New, Ng fall to champ for 2-3 finish

Singapore kegler New Hui Fen finished a memorable 2016 season by taking silver at the World Bowling Singles Championships. The 24-year-old was also the PWBA Tour's Rookie of the Year and won the season- ending Tour Championship.
Singapore kegler New Hui Fen finished a memorable 2016 season by taking silver at the World Bowling Singles Championships. The 24-year-old was also the PWBA Tour's Rookie of the Year and won the season- ending Tour Championship.TNP FILE PHOTO

Singapore keglers fall just short of world title, vow to learn to deal with their nerves better

For the past week, New Hui Fen has been hobbling her way around Doha with a knee injury.

With her right knee taped up, the national bowler bit through pain and still clawed her way to the final of the World Bowling Singles Championships.

The 24-year-old took silver at the prestigious quadrennial event yesterday, after she was beaten 214-195 by America's Kelly Kulick in the one-game final.

And while a runner-up position is more than what she thought she was capable of after injuring her knee, New wanted more once she squeezed her way into the final.

A last-frame spare in her semi-final over Shannon Pluhowsky, another American, earned the Singaporean a narrow 238-237 win for a place in the title decider.

DOUBLE DOSE OF NERVOUSNESS

This was my first time competing in this tournament, so I was a bit nervous. But ultimately it's not the event that scares me, but who I'm bowling with. Kelly is Kelly and she just gives me some chills.

NEW HUI FEN, Singapore bowler, on her one-game final defeat by the American Kelly Kulick.

"This was good, but it could've been better," said New, who revealed that the pain got worse over the week.

"I was quite worried that I wouldn't be able to last through the whole tournament."

She also admitted that playing against Kulick, the defending champion and one of the sport's biggest names, was nerve-racking.

Said New: "I was rushing my shots a bit for the first six frames. This was my first time competing in this tournament, so I was a bit nervous.

"But ultimately it's not the event that scares me, but who I'm bowling with. Kelly is Kelly and she just gives me some chills."

Her compatriot Shayna Ng admitted that the national team have to learn to deal with nerves better.

She had picked up a bronze after losing 172-216 to Kulick in her semi-final. There was no play-off for bronze.

Said Ng, the reigning Sportswoman of the Year: "That's something we all have to learn to get used to. There's no way you can be calm during the final match, so it's all about getting used to it."

The 27-year-old, the 2012 QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup winner, also had to fight for her place among the last four, following a frustrating week in Doha where her highest score was 236.

New took home a US$4,000 (S$5,720) cheque for her runner-up finish while Ng was awarded US$3,000.

While the duo did not end up at the top of the podium in Doha, Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua lauded her bowlers for showing grit until the end.

She said: "To have stayed on top of it, put mind over matter and finish the way they did - it was an incredible effort by our girls.

"They were close. It could have swung either way and it just didn't happen today."

The silver and bronze medals rounded up a laudable season for the women's team, who had also performed well on the Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour.

New was awarded the Tour's Rookie of the Year and also took the season-ending Tour Championship, one of four Major titles on the circuit.

The team picked up two other titles on the Tour this season, including Bernice Lim's Major win at the United States Bowling Congress Queens event in May.

Said Phua: "It's been an incredible year for the team.

"We often take it for granted and expect them to bring home titles, but they really have earned it. It's no fluke and they prove it themselves year after year."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'New, Ng fall to champ for 2-3 finish'. Print Edition | Subscribe