Bowling: Hui Fen best of new kids

New, 24, wins US-based PWBA Tour's Rookie of the Year award

Cherie Tan (left) and New Hui Fen defied the seedings to make the PWBA Tour Championship semi-finals.
Cherie Tan (left) and New Hui Fen defied the seedings to make the PWBA Tour Championship semi-finals. PHOTO COURTESY OF SINGAPORE BOWLING FEDERATION

Even as her eyes remain on the bigger prize, Singapore's New Hui Fen has already ensured that her debut season on the Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour will end on a high.

The 24-year-old is the United States-based Tour's Rookie of the Year, earning the most points among debutantes over the course of the season.

She was in the running alongside American Jennifer Higgins, but secured the accolade after beating American Shannon O'Keefe 3-1 yesterday for a spot in the semi-finals of the season-ending PWBA Tour Championship early this morning.

Team-mate Cherie Tan also upset the pecking order, winning three straight matches to be among the final four. Tan, the 16th seed, beat fourth seed American Shannon Pluhowsky 3-2 yesterday.

New, the 11th seed, faced top seed Liz Johnson in semi-finals while Tan was up against second seed Rocio Restrepo of Colombia. Both matches, as well as the final, were televised live in the United States (early this morning, Singapore time) from Midlothian, Virginia.

The Tour Championship is the last of the year's four Major tournaments and awards US$20,000 (S$27,200) to the winner.

New's feat is notable for the fact that her Rookie of the Year gong came despite her competing in just five of the 13 stops on the Tour prior to the Tour Championship.

Her consistency set her apart. She finished among the top five in four of those five events, including a fourth place at the US Women's Open, a Major. She was also third at the Sonoma County Open and Sacramento Open in May.

While the Rookie of the Year award is recognition of her efforts over the season, putting herself in contention in the season-ender had always been New's aim.

She told after earning a spot in the semi-finals: "It's really surprising. But I was working toward making the TV show because if you think about it that way, it's easier to win the Rookie of the Year.

"If I came here with the mindset thinking that I just have to win two matches and I'm done, then I'm really done."

"If I aim for the moon, I'll land on the stars," added New, whose road to the semi-finals included a 3-2 victory over Higgins.

The PWBA features many of the world's top female bowlers but Team Singapore's keglers have made themselves a force to be reckoned with this season in America.

Tan, 27, won the Sacramento event while 24-year-old Bernice Lim was crowned champion at the USBC Queens, a Major.

Said Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua: "People definitely took note of this bunch of Singaporean bowlers and we're very proud of the girls.

"They've shown that they can hold their own anywhere. It's good to see that they are really battle-hardened and I'm so impressed with their maturity."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2016, with the headline 'Hui Fen best of new kids'. Subscribe