3rd June, Kuala Lumpur: Topseed, Rafiq Ismail and third-seed, Lavinia Kho Jia Jie swept the Men's and Women's Open Masters titles of the 41st Malaysian International Open 2023 just concluded at Sunway Megalanes on Saturday.
Ismail regained the title he won back in 2017 after outclassing challenger and national team-mate, Hafiz Zainuddin, 191-157 in the championship match. Both title contenders started off fairly well marking their opening two frames.
The 26-year-old pull away slightly after a double strike in the third and fourth frames as Zainuddin could not response. A split in the fifth frame from Zainuddin saw him trailing Ismail by 23 pins.
Ismail encountered a split in the seventh frame so did his oppponent allowing the champion to keep a 21-pin lead. When Ismail missed a single pin in eighth frame, there was hope for Zainuddin to reduce the gap. But again bad luck struck the 24-year-old when he was dealt with another split in the ninth frame.
Ismail doubled in the ninth and tenth frame to put the match beyond his opponent and sealed the victory. In the earlier semi-final match between Zainuddin and third-seed, Muhd Hazim Bin Alihanafiah of Kuala Lumpur, Zainuddin comfortably took the match, 242-208 to set up the clash with Ismail.
Ismail pocketed the top prize of RM45,000 (approx. US$9,800) as champion. Zainuddin settled for RM22,000 as first runner-up while the second runner-up took home RM13,000.
Meanwhile in the Women's Open division, third-seed Lavinia Kho Jia Jie of Sarawak forced topseed, Colleen Pee of Singapore to the second deciding match after winning the first, 194-176. Pee had a better start in the decider knocking down three consecutive strikes from the second to the fourth frame and built up a good lead.
Kho had a split in the second frame between two strikes in the first and third. When Pee suffered a split in the fourth frame, the gap was reduced to just 14 pins. The 18-year-old Malaysian, who won three gold medals at the 2022 SUKMA Games and yesterday's Women's Graded title, doubled in the seventh and eighth frame to draw level.
Two back-to-back open frames in the eighth and ninth sealed the faith for the Singaporean. Kho downed another strike in the ninth to win her first-ever international title, 207-177. She also earned RM25,000 (approx. US$5,400) as champion.
Kho had earlier advanced to the title match by ousting third-seed and compatriot, Nora Lyana Nastasia, 212-204 in the semi-final. Pee took home RM15,000 as first runner-up while Nastasia settled for RM8,000 as second runenr-up.
Dato' Dr P.S. Nathan, President of the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress and Hon. Life President of IBF along with Vice President, Mr Robert Lu were on hand to present the trophies and prizes to the winners.
Photos by Terence Yaw in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.