Bowling: Bernice Lim beats national teammate New Hui Fen to win first Singapore International Open crown

Singapore's Bernice Lim and Rafiq Ismail from Malaysia are respectively the women's and men's step-ladder final winners at the 51st Singapore International Open Bowling finals.
Singapore's Bernice Lim and Rafiq Ismail from Malaysia are respectively the women's and men's step-ladder final winners at the 51st Singapore International Open Bowling finals.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - A spot in Sunday's (June 30) 51st Singapore International Open final hung in the balance for national bowler Bernice Lim as she trailed her South Korean rivals in the one-game semi-final with two frames left.

But the 27-year-old kept her composure to string four consecutive strikes at Temasek Club for a 200-pinfall score to book her place in the Women’s Open stepladder final, narrowly beating Lee Yeon-ji (196) and Son Hye-run (194).

Patience was again the name of the game for Lim in the all-Singaporean final, where she faced national teammate New Hui Fen.

To keep up her momentum, she needed to win the first game against top seed New, who made it straight to the final following her 1,859-pinfall effort earlier, to force a second game play-off.

Brushing off a shaky start, Lim turned the game around with four successive strikes in the closing frames yet again to outscore New 220-205. 

The 2018 Asian Games women’s trio bronze medallist started the finale with aplomb, opening with three strikes, but New did not go down without a fight as she trimmed the gap between the two to just one point. 

However, Lim clung on to the lead to prevail 214-213 over New and claim her maiden Singapore International Open title. 

She took home a winner’s cheque of $10,000 presented by guest of honour and Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann. 

Lim said: “My main focus was to stay patient throughout the day. That was what I did well today, just taking each shot and staying patient. 

“I had a rocky start, I didn’t really have a good look at the lanes, so I was just trying to focus to give myself a good chance.”

Despite missing out on the title, New had no complaints about her performance. 

She was happy with how she handled her game and decision-making, something she has been working on since the start of the year. 

“In the past, it was a bit more hit and run when I had to make a judgment,” said the 27-year-old, who won the 2016 Smithfield Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour Championship.

“Now I’m calmer, more logical and more clear about decisions.

“My goal was to be in the present for every shot, not be too attached to the scores and I think I did great.”

In the Men’s Open, top-seeded Malaysian Rafiq Ismail emerged victorious after defeating South Korea’s Kim Jun-yung 188-180 in another nail-biting stepladder final.

The 22-year-old was relieved to win his first title of the year and $25,000 after working hard to fine-tune his game. 

“I haven’t been performing well in previous tournaments,” said the 2018 Asian Games Masters gold medallist, who also won the Men’s World Bowling Championship in Hong Kong last year.

“I’ve been struggling, but I’ve been working with my coaches to correct my mistakes. 

“It’s such a great feeling to bring home a trophy.”