Bowling: Rafiq surprises himself with superb show

Malaysian bowler Rafiq Ismail was overjoyed with his men’s Open win as he was fasting during Ramadan. He beat South Korea’s Ryu Ji Hoon 266-244 in the step-ladder final.
Malaysian bowler Rafiq Ismail was overjoyed with his men’s Open win as he was fasting during Ramadan. He beat South Korea’s Ryu Ji Hoon 266-244 in the step-ladder final. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
A happy women’s Open champion Jung Da Wun taking a wefie with (from left) second-placed Kang Su Jin, third-placed Cherie Tan and Baek Seung Ja, who was fourth. Jung is now aiming to win at the World Championships.
A happy women’s Open champion Jung Da Wun taking a wefie with (from left) second-placed Kang Su Jin, third-placed Cherie Tan and Baek Seung Ja, who was fourth. Jung is now aiming to win at the World Championships.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Malaysian has good tune-up for SEA Games, S'pore's Cherie Tan third in women's event

When Rafiq Ismail entered the Singapore International Open, he had modest expectations as he was merely eyeing a top-four finish.

One week later at the SingaporeBowling@Rifle Range alley, under the cheers and applause of a supportive crowd, the Malaysian was crowned the men's Open champion after he defeated South Korea's Ryu Ji Hoon 266-244 in the step-ladder final.

Rafiq, who earned $20,000 for his efforts, said: "This year, I didn't expect to win at all, but I ended up bringing back the trophy.

"It's fasting month and it's been (an) exhausting week for me. I'm very, very happy to win it during Ramadan, it's a good experience."

The 20-year-old is looking to replicate his form in two months, when the SEA Games take place in Kuala Lumpur.

There his "main target out of the five events (that he is participating in)" is the team gold medal.

Said Rafiq: "I'm more confident about myself suddenly (after winning the Open), certainly (more confident) for the SEA Games."

It was not all heartbreak for the Koreans though, as Jung Da Wun emerged victorious in the all-Korean women's Open final.

After putting in a dominant performance to beat Kang Su Jin 243-146, the 31-year-old said: "I was comfortable competing with someone that's my (national) team member.

"I feel good and I've got the confidence to try and win at the World Championships."

Cherie Tan was third, a result which made her Singapore's top performer in the competition.

Said the 29-year-old: "(The match was) not bad. Most of my shots were good shots, although in the beginning, I was a little off in the first two games in terms of rhythm."

Tan identified quicker adaptation to conditions as an area she needs to improve on and said that she needs to "get into the pace faster".

She added: "This is our last tournament before the SEA Games. It is just training after this, so this is the last chance we get to compete.

"Training and competition is different. The atmosphere and the way you bowl is different."

The 49th edition of the tournament featured 15 countries, including Australia, Japan and the United States.

The 692 bowlers challenged for a prize purse of over $170,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2017, with the headline 'Rafiq surprises himself with superb show'. Print Edition | Subscribe