21st November, Suzhou: 2019 U.S. Open first runner-up, Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., captured the inaugural 2019 Tiger Bowling Cup China International Invitational after defeating AJ Johnson of Oswego, Ill., 2-0 in the all-American final.
Rash, the 2011-2012 PBA Player of the Year, took the first best-of-three games title match, 211-194 before wrapping up the victory with 227-207 in the second match for the top prize of US$20,000 leaving Johnson taking home US$10,000 as first runner-up.
The champion, who was seeded fourth, had earlier edged Hong Kong's Michael Mak, 2-1 in the semi-finals (Rash 210, 226, 258 and Mak 174, 268, 192). Johnson ended China's hope with victory over Su Jun, 2-0 (227, 203 and 181, 171) in the other semi to face his compatriot in the final.
Su defeated Mak in the third and fourth place playoffs, 2-1 to finish as second runner-up and earning US$8,000 with Mak settling for third runner-up and US$6,000.
Rash had advanced to the semi-finals after ousting China's Zhang Min in the quarter-finals, 2-0 while Johnson eliminated fellow-countrymen, Kyle Sherman, 2-0 to progress to the semis. Mak defeated Chen Wenbin of China, 2-1 and Su defeated 2019 Asian Championships Doubles gold medallist, Wang Hongbo, 2-0.
Top-seed and PBA pro, Kyle Troup of USA made an early exit in the Top 16 elimination round after going down to Hong Kong' Mak 0-2. Another American PBA pro, Tommy Jones also crashed out after narrowly losing to China's Su 0-2.
A third American PBA pro, Bill O'Neill lost to compatriot, Johnson 0-2 while the fourth PBA pro, Jason Sterner also made an early exit losing to China's Wang, 0-2. 2017 China Open champion, Mi ZhongLi of China went down to Sherman, 0-2 and a second Hong Kong national, Ivan Tse was beaten 2-0 by Chen.
In the earlier Round 2 finals for invited overseas bowlers, Kyle Troup topped the three-games round with 709, 37 pins ahead of Jones and O'Neill, who tied in second with 672. Rash finished fourth with 671 and Wang ShiZhen completed the top five with 664.
In Round 1 finals of the top 64 local qualifiers, Zhang Min of China led with 1725 over 8 games followed by Wang HongBo in second with 1714 and Wang LiangXin in third with 1713. Mi ZhongLi and Ivan Tse completed the top five with 1710 and 1709 respectively.
Michael Mak survived the cut in ninth position with 1684 while the top female, Yang LiYan of China missed the cut by seven pins finishing in tenth position with 1677. A total of 92 local bowlers and 19 invited overseas bowlers competed in this inaugural invitational.
Players have to bowl at least two three-games series qualifiers and the top 64 with the highest six-games aggregate advance to the eight-games Round 1 finals. The tournament is organised by the Multi-Ball Games Administrative Center, General Administration of Sports of China. China Bowling Association and Jiangsu Provicial Sports Federation, who assisted in the organisation, was hosted at Tiger Bowling Hall, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province, China.
Photos courtesy of China Bowling Association.