Close shave for Jazreel
Nine Singapore bowlers were in contention yesterday for a place in the Singapore Open Masters women's Round Two final at Orchid Country Club's Orchid Bowl today.
Coach Remy Ong kept an eye on all of them - but, during the last two games, all his attention was focused on Jazreel Tan.
Lying in 17th place, the 24-year-old was on the verge of elimination.
She needed two massive scores to break into the top 12 and qualify for today's Round Two.
In the end, she scraped through - thanks to a 236 in the eighth and final game, helped by a poor 188 by Malaysia's Alisha Iman.
Both Tan and her coach heaved a huge sigh of relief following her close shave.
"I really don't want to live on the edge like that," an exhausted Tan told The New Paper. "I thought I couldn't make it after the sixth game, and that I needed a 240 or 250 to do it. But (Alisha) happened to hit a 188.
"Yes, I consider myself a little lucky. My teammates and coaches all rallied behind me (during the last two games) and that really helped."
Five of nine Singaporeans - among the field of 24 - made the women's top-12 cut for today's second round.
Six others, including Shayna Ng, had earlier qualified for the final day, which will see 18 keglers contest a Round Two, a semi-final, and then a stepladder grand final.
A Round One exit by Tan, a two-time Sportsgirl of the Year winner, would have been a huge shock, since she achieved a top-five finish in the last three Opens.
Her coach, however, is confident that Tan can build on yesterday's last-game heroics and do well today.
"Where the players finish today doesn't matter, as long as they qualify," Ong said.
"(Today) they will start fresh. And, many times in the past, I've seen players who snuck into the final, go on and finish in the top two or even win it."
Tan, who lost to American Kelly Kulick in an epic, heartbreaking final in 2011, is hoping she can go one step further today.
"I always make the cut, but fail to win a tournament," she said.
"There won't be any room for another bad start on the final day."
While Tan cut it close, 16-year-old Joey Yeo made qualification look easy when she finished second overall with a 1,800 pinfall total - 76 pinfalls behind defending champion Sin Li Jane of Malaysia.
"Initially, I was doubtful about my chances because I was still figuring out the lanes," said the Raffles Institution student.
"But everything fell into the place today. Can I win the Open? Well, it would be a surprise. I'll remain hopeful."
In the men's bracket, Indonesia's Yeri Ramadona finished as the best qualifier with a 1,910 pinfall total, ahead of tournament favourite, American Sean Rash (1,878), who was third.
Five Singaporeans qualified for today's final, including Jaris Goh, who finished as the highest local qualifier, in seventh place.
Yes, I consider myself a little lucky. My teammates and coaches all rallied behind me (during the last two games) and that really helped.
— Jazreel Tan, on scraping through to the next round
9.30am: Men's and women's Open Round Two
4pm: Stepladder grand final