PETALING JAYA: Filipino bowlers have a knack for striking perfect games in the Malaysian Open. And they did it for the third consecutive year at the Pyramid Mega Lanes here yesterday.
This time, reigning World Cup champion C.J. Suarez hit the magical 300 in his second game in the men's Open Masters qualifying.
It was the first perfect game of the championships and it won the 25-year-old Suarez a Canon XL 1s Digital Camcorder worth RM19,500.
Two years ago, four-time World Cup champion Paeng Nepomuceno won RM50,000 for a perfect game and Biboy Rivera achieved the same feat last year, winning a Proton TD2000 vintage car worth RM190,000.
On Tuesday, Biboy had fallen short of a perfect game by two pins.
For Suarez, it was the fourth time in his bowling career that he had struck a perfect game and it came hot on the heels of a 300 at the EuroMed-Storm Masters Challenge in Manila two weeks ago.
“Incidentally, I am using the same ball, which knocked down all the pins in Manila two weeks ago. I guess this is my lucky ball,” said Suarez.
In his first time out in qualifying yesterday, Suarez had lines of 166-300-167-192 for a total of 825. He said that he only knew that there was a prize for a perfect game after completing the four games.
“It's better this way. I have always been nervous when it comes to rolling the last ball. “But today, I just stayed cool,” said Suarez, who is currently ranked number one in the Philippines.
Suarez is making his first appearance in the Malaysian Open and he is participating on an all-expenses-paid invitation by virtue of lifting the World Cup title in Honduras last year.
Besides Suarez and Biboy, the other top bowlers from the Philippines in the fray are Chester King and women's defending champion Liza del Rosario, who won gold in the trios event of the World Championships at the same venue last year.
Malaysia is certainly a happy hunting ground for the Filipino bowlers and Suarez won two gold medals in the 2001 SEA Games competition, which was played in Penang.
In the Malaysian Open last year, Paulo Valdez was the runner-up behind Malaysia's Azidi Ameran.
But Valdez turned the tables on Azidi two days later in the Malaysian leg of the Asian Tour.
In the women's competition, Rosario denied Malaysian number one Shalin Zulkifli the chance to win the title for a second time last year.
But Shalin went on to win the Malaysian leg of the Asian Tour, beating another bowler from the Philippines, Cecilia Yap, in the final. Cecilia was the Malaysian Open champion in 2001.
The prize for a perfect game in the Masters Final is bigger. It will be worth RM100,000.