44th Hong Kong International Open
Indian, Thai wins Stage 1 finals
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29th June, Hong Kong: 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games Doubles bronze medallist, Dhruv Sarda of India and 2011 South-East Asian Games Trios gold medallist, Yanee Saebe of Thailand took victory of the Men's and Women's Open Stage 1 Masters finals at the 44th Hong Kong International Open on Friday.

Singapore's Jonovan Neo got off the block with a stunning 288 to lead 2018 Macao-China Open first runner-up, Wu Siu Hong of Hong Kong by 20 pins. Apart from the two, Kuwait's Mostafa Almousawi was the closest in third with 257.

Despite a moderate 218, the Singaporean held on to the lead as Wu narrowed the gap to just 9 pins with Almousawi still in third. 2018 PBA-WBT Busan Cup champion, Annop Arromsaranon rolled back-to-back 235s to moved into fourth, 7 pins adrift the Kuwaiti.

A sizzling game of 278 by the Arromsaranon in the third saw the Thai taking over the running. Wu continued to trail in second as Neo slipped away into third spot. Almousawai kept close as Dhruv Sarda began to quicken his strides.

Men's Open Stage 1 top3, Wu Siu Hong, Dhruv Sarda and Annop Arromsaranon

The battle for the lead was between Arromsaranon and Wu with the Thai leading after the fourth while Wu led after fifth and sixth games. Although Arromsaranon regained the lead after the seventh game, Sarda stormed home with 268 in the final game to secure the win with 1865.

Wu got the better of the Thai to take second spot with 1834 while Arromsaranon settled for third positiomn with 1788. A second Hong Kong national and 2017 World Championships Trios gold medallist, Michael Mak of Hong Kong and Shahrukh Amin of Malaysia completed the top 5 with 1768 and 1750.

A third Hong Kong national and 2017 WOrld Championships Doubles silver medallist, Lau Kwun Ho, Filipino Kenntheth Chua and a fourth Hong Kong national, Tony Wong all scrapped through to the next stage in 16th, 17th and 18th positions. Diwan Rezaldy of Indonesia missed the cut by 7 pins to end up in 19th position.

In the women's division, the lead was keenly fought amongst finalists from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Chinese Taipei. Newly-crowned 50th Singapore Open champion, Jazreel Tan of Singapore led in the opening game with a splendid 267.

Last week's ABF Tour Macau champion, Nora Lyana Natasia of Malaysia was quick to capitalise on the opportunity presented to her when Tan stumbled to a poor 147 in the second game but her lead only last one game.

2018 Thailand Open champion, Shayna Ng surged ahead of Natasia with a sizzling 267 in the third game. Thailand's Yanee Saebe and Chinese Taipei's Chang Yu Hsuan began to close in on the leading trio. By the fifth game, the Thai led Chang by 15 pins but the duo exchanged lead after the sixth game with Chang leading Saebe by 22 pins.

Although Natasia bounced back with 244 in the seventh game to regain the lead, the Thai ended the strongest with 245 to take the Stage 1 victory with 1753. The Malaysian settled for second with 1735 while Chang finished third with 1725.

Women's Stage 1 top 3, Natasia, Saebe and Chang

Defending champion, Sharon Limansantoso of Indonesia and Bernice Lim of Singapore barely made the cut in 14th and 15th positions with 1554 and 1541 respectively. 2018 Philippine Open champion, Liza Del Rosario of Philippines missed the cut by 6 pins to finish in 16th.

The top 18 men with be joined by the top 3 local and top 3 overseas seeded qualifiers from the general standings and the top 15 women will be joined by the top 3 local and top 3 overseas seeded qualifiers from the general standings for another 8 games from scratch in Stage 2 finals. The top 6 men and top 6 women with the highest pinfall at the end of the Stage 2 will proceed to the Stepladder Shootout finals.

Photos by Terence Yaw in Hong Kong, China.

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