Phua cheered by bowlers' new talents and home
Bowling chief Phua excited by promising keglers and 'fantastic' facility
The Republic's young keglers got what Singapore Bowling Federation (SBF) president Jessie Phua called a "baptism of fire" at the 48th Singapore International Open yesterday, after both the men's and women's titles went to visiting South Korean bowlers.
Held for the first time at SingaporeBowling @ Rifle Range, the sport's new home that opened in January, 17-year-old Timothy Tham flew the flag for the men in the step-ladder finals, while Tracy See, 20, and Charlene Lim, 17, outdid veterans like Jazreel Tan and Shayna Ng to earn a spot in the women's finale.
While all three came up short, Phua believes the tournament showed that there will be serious competition for places for the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur next year.
Timothy fell in comprehensive fashion to 25-year-old Park Jong Woo, 201 to 155 pinfalls in just one game.
Timothy, the 2015 Singapore national champion, sent the ball into the gutter in the fourth frame, leaving him with just too much to do to force a second game.
In the women's division, Tracy (197 pinfalls) and Charlene (157) dropped out in the first match of the step-ladder finals to eventual winner Jung Da Wun.
Jung beat compatriot Baek Sung Ja 239-196 in the sudden-death decider to bag her second title here, after her win in 2012.
"It's nice to see the young ones like Timothy, Tracy and Charlene send a very strong signal. Our women are making moves in the US, but our second and third-tier bowlers are starting to show that they're ready," said Phua.
"This was a baptism of fire for them and I think it was harder because (they were competing) in front of their family and friends, and that's as tough as it gets. But it's better that this happens here (than at overseas competitions).
"I have big hopes for this group. For the SEA Games, who knows... There's no certainty who's going to represent us there, and no room for complacency for the seniors."
While Timothy admitted that nerves were responsible for his capitulation, he vowed to channel the disappointment into experience.
"My inexperience in the step-ladder showed. I had a chance in the ninth and 10 frames, but I just couldn't compose myself," said Timothy, after competing in his first step-ladder finals at this event.
"The biggest takeaway from this is that if I can focus on my own game, I can be among Asia's best.
"I just need to focus on myself, and trust my ability."
And the youngster illustrated just why Phua thinks the future is bright.
"I think Remy Ong is the most decorated (male) bowler in Singapore, and I want to be better than him, but following my own path," added Timothy.
Even though he seemed to cruise to victory in the final, Park was affected by nerves, too.
"It was not easy for me.
"The young boy who finished second - he's younger than me - was nervous," said Park.
"But I was nervous, too. (The match) was not over (even after Timothy hit the gutter).
"After seven frames I got comfortable, that's why I was hitting good shots."
Park was impressed by Singapore bowling's new facility, and believes local bowlers will not be the only ones to benefit.
"It's Singapore bowling's new home and they've finally built it (after a while). I think it's really good for Singapore, and even Asian bowlers (who can come here to compete)."
"This is the first time I'm here and I won, of course I like it more," he added, chuckling.
It was music to Phua's ears.
"How can we not be excited about this (the new facility)? The Open was run incredibly efficiently, and while we normally hold the victory banquet at a restaurant or a ballroom, this is our home, we can do what we like," she said, pointing to the dancers and other performances that were hosted at the venue, while food was served at various booths along the 38-lane facility.
"This is what future Singapore Opens will be like, and I think it's fantastic."
I think Remy Ong is the most decorated (male) bowler in Singapore, and I want to be better than him, but following my own path.
— Timothy Tham, who lost to Park Jong Woo in the Singapore International Open’s men’s step-ladder final