PETALING JAYA: The Sunway Mega Lanes has been bowler Rafiq Ismail’s favourite hunting ground since he was young - and he hopes to keep it that way.
After winning numerous junior and Open titles, he is now eyeing his first World Bowling Tour (WBT) title at the venue.
Malaysia will stage a WBT event for the first time, since its inception in 2011, at the Sunway Mega Lanes when they host the inaugural Brunswick Asia Challenge in September. And the 22-year-old Rafiq could not hide his excitement.
“I’m thrilled to bits. We’ll finally have one WBT tournament on our home soil, and that’s a great development, ” said Rafiq, the world champion and Asian Games gold medallist in 2018.
“We don’t really get to play in WBT events as most of them are held in the US and Europe.
“Now we get to compete at our favourite place. Many of us have done well here previously in the Malaysian Open and other international tournaments.”
Rafiq’s first success at the venue was the Milo International Masters triumph which propelled him to stardom in 2011. He was only 14 when he gunned down South Korea’s Kong Byoung-hee for the title.
His other accolades at the same spot includes three golds at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, national titles in 2015 and 2018, the 2012 Milo Junior All-Stars and Malaysian Open in 2016.
Rafiq is now hoping that the organisers will succeed in their application for joint-sanctioning status with the United States Professional Bowlers’ Association (PBA).
“It would be perfect if the tournament is sanctioned as part of the PBA Tour.
“The WBT Thailand is a PBA Tour event, so I hope our event will enjoy the same status too, ” said Rafiq.
“It’s my dream to win on the PBA Tour, and it will be extra special if I can accomplish it in front of the home fans.”
Rafiq came close to winning the PBA Tour on two occasions, finishing third in the WBT Thailand and Jonesboro Open in the US.
Sin Li Jane too will be seeking to add a WBT title to her collection of titles worldwide.
She boasts one US Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour title to her name and had won four times on the European Bowling Tour.