44th Hong Kong International Open
Lead changes atop the leaderboard
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28th June, Hong Kong: 2017 South-East Asian Games Team silver medallists, Billy Muhammad Islam of Indonesia and Joey Yeo of Singapore took over the lead of the Men's and Women's Open qualifying standings at the 44th Hong Kong International Open on Thursday.

Islam, who had qualified in fifth with 1406, improved his lower 3-game series of 657 with 773 to take over the lead with 1522, making him the only qualifier to surpass the 1500-mark. 2017 Philippine Open champion, Kenneth Chua of Philippines also improved to take over second spot with 1462.

Filipino youngster and 2018 World Youth Championships bound, Merwin Tan surprised the field with a splendid effort of 1455 to secure third spot and crucially earned a bye for Stage 2 finals as one of the top 3 overseas qualifiers.

Newly-crowned 2018 PBA-World Bowling Tour Busan Cup champion, Annop Arromsaranon of Thailand had struggled to register good scores but finally found his line to occupy fourth position with 1439. He will now be eyeing for a top 3 spot with further attempts before qualifying ends late tonight.

Billy M Islam becoming the first qualifier to surpass the 1500-mark

Early pace-setter, Lee Tak Man of Macau slipped out of the top bracket to round out the top 5 with 1433. In the local pool, 2018 Macao-China Open fourth runner-up, James Lui remained in the lead with 1451.

Last year's Youth Open champion, Ivan Tse and first perfect gamer, Wicky Yeung also remained in second and third positions with 1433 and 1409. Hassan Alshaikh of Saudi Arabia headed the mixed pool with 1401 and the cut in tenth position in the mixed pool went to compatriot, Abdulrahman Alkheliwi with 1385.

The cut last night was 1346 and had gone up by 39 pins. With four remaining squads before qualifying ends tonight, this figure could well reach the 1400-mark.

Meanwhile 2017 South-East Asian Games Team silver medallist, Joey Yeo of Singapore took over the lead with 1441. Indonesia's Aldila Indryati also improved to move into second spot with 1428 while Malaysia's Radin Nur Najwa secured third spot with 1381.

Newly-crowned 50th Singapore Open champion, Jazreel Tan, who had taken over the lead briefly with 1374, was knocked off the top bracket into fourth position. Her team-mate and 2018 Thailand Open champion, Shayna Ng rounded out the top 5 with 1373.

There were no changes atop the local pool with Chan Shuk Han, Joey Yip and Milki Ng occupying the top 3 spots with 1197, 1164 and 1146 respectively. Daphne Tan of Singapore headed the mixed pool with 1316 while the cut in ninth position was shared by Chinese Taipei's Tsai Hsin-Yi and Macau's Veronica Dias De Souza on 1252.

If there are not improvements from other qualifiers, there may be a one-game roll-off to break this tie and to determine who will make the finals.

Women's Open overseas pool new leader, Joey Yeo

The top 3 local and top 3 overseas qualifiers for both the men and women will skip Stage 1 finals and automatically advance to Stage 2 finals on June 29. 33 men and 24 women from the general standings, which included the defending champions, will contest Stage 1 finals tomorrow.

The top 18 men and top 12 women with the highest pinfalls at the end of Stage 1 finals will advance to Stage 2 finals, joined by the 6 men and 6 women seeded qualifiers. The top 6 men and top 6 women with the highest pinfall at the end of Stage 2 finals will proceed to the Stepladder Shooutout finals.

Photos by Terence Yaw in Hong Kong, China.

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