PETALING JAYA: Bowler Rafiq Ismail came up agonisingly short to becoming the first Malaysian to win on the US Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour.
The 21-year-old was pipped by England’s Stuart Williams by one pin in the semi-final of the World Bowling Tour (WBT) Thailand to finish a commendable third at the Blu–O Rhythm & Bowl in Bangkok yesterday.
Rafiq lost 205-206 to Williams, a six-time European Bowling Tour (EBT) champion, in the tournament that is jointly sanctioned by PBA Tour.
All Rafiq needed was a strike in the 10th frame but ended up with a split when it mattered most.
Rafiq knew he blew it and said he could have done better with that shot.
“I wouldn’t say I’m unlucky. It’s just not good enough,” said Rafiq, who still pocketed a cool 300,000 baht (RM38,400) for his effort.
“A top-three finish is something to be proud of, especially when there are so many top American and European competitors in the field this week.
“I didn’t make it this time (to win the PBA Tour title)...but I’m just going to keep trying,” added the Asian Games gold medallist.
Rafiq, who finished 17th in last year’s tournament, was in superb form all day long.
Earlier, he ruled the third round and made it to the top-eight cut for the stepladder finals by coming in second in the fourth round.
Another Malaysian, Sin Li Jane, also made it to the title playoffs after finishing sixth.
Playing against men brought out the best in Li Jane as she struck a high game of 261 to eliminate defending champion Yannaphon Larpapharat of Thailand (246) and 12-time PBA Tour winner Sean Rash of the United States (195).
Like Rafiq, Li Jane also ran out of luck as the three-time EBT champion missed out on the quarter-final by a whisker.
Li Jane matched American Kyle Troup’s effort of 220 in the second stepladder match, but lost to the latter in a one-throw tie-breaker to settle for fifth overall and pocketed 100,000 baht (RM12,800).
Troup hit a strike to beat Li Jane’s nine pins.
American Danielle McEwan defeated Williams 225-179 in the final to become the first-ever women’s winner since the tournament inception in 2011 and walked away with top prize 1mil baht (RM128,000).
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