Asia’s top-ranked bowler Rafiq seals WBT Finals spot


PETALING JAYA: National bowling ace Rafiq Ismail has a chance to conquer the world again – a year after he claimed the historic singles gold medal at the World Championships in Hong Kong.

The 22-year-old has made the six-man World Bowling Tour (WBT) Finals in Kuwait on Nov 7 by virtue of being the top-ranked men’s bowler in Asia as of last month.

It’s the first time the WBT have extended invitation to one male and one female bowler from each of the three zones – Asia, Europe and Pan America – to participate in the season-ending event for the 2019 series.

The other three qualifiers for each category will come from the top-three finishers in the current WBT season. The penultimate WBT Thailand leg is currently taking place in Bangkok.

Rafiq became the only second Malaysian to qualify for the prestigious one-day showdown after Shalin Zulkifli in Nevada, the United States, in 2017.

“It’s such a great honour to be part of the WBT Finals, ” said Rafiq.

“Most of WBT tournaments are co-sanctioned with the PBA Tour in the United States, making it almost impossible for us to collect points.

“Apparently, this is the first time that they have opened the entries for players from other continents and I’m very fortunate to qualify through the continent ranking.

“Being the only Asian representative in the field, I will try my best to do Malaysia and Asia proud!”

But before the Kuwait meet, Rafiq will first try to take aim at the WBT Thailand crown after making the top-42 cut for the final yesterday.

In the three-day qualifying campaign which ended on Thursday, Rafiq finished 23rd out of 143 players after posting a nine-game series of 2,077 pinfalls.

Rafiq is on a pursuit for his maiden WBT title after having settled for a third-place finish in the tournament last year.

The other Malaysians who have qualified for the tournament proper are Chong Jun Foo (2,104,15th), Zulmazran Zulkifli (2,066,27th) and Nur Syazwani Sahar (2,019,34th).

Ahmad Muaz Fishol, who had initially finished 70th with a 1,947 total, secured one of the last three spots after firing a 252 in the “desperado” one-game roll-off.

The tournament offers a lucrative prize purse of 4.2mil baht (RM574,000) with the winner set to walk away with a whopping 1mil baht (RM137,000) jackpot.

RESULTS

Qualifying (nine games): 1. Osku Palermaa (Fin) 2263,2. Ryan Ciminelli (US) 2198,3. Darren Tang (US) 2185,4. Dominic Barrett (Eng) 2180,5. Jesper Svensson (Swe) 2166.

Selected Malaysians: 15. Chong Jun Foo 2104,23. Rafiq Ismail 2077,27. Zulmazran Zulkifli 2066,34. Nur Syazwani Sahar 2019,51. Alex Liew 2031,60. Timmy Tan 1992,63. Abner Loo 1976,67. Sin Li Jane 1952,70. Ahmad Muaz Fishol 1947,76. Abang Afiq Yazid 1934,86. Hee Kar Yen 1894,87. Tsen Fan Yew 1893,89. Tun Ameerul Hakim Tun Hasnul Azam 1882,91. Nora Lyana Nastasia Norkamal 1875,92. Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman 1874,96. Syafiq Ridhwan Abdul Malek 1864,100. Shalin Zulkifli 1834,101. Adrian Ang 1834,102. Natasha Roslan 1812,109. Syaidatul Afifah Badrul Hamidi 1788,112. Nerosha Keligit 1776.

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