45th Hong Kong International Open
Deserving victory for topseeds
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20th July, Hong Kong: Topseeds, Rafiq Ismail of Malaysia and Iliya Syamim of Singapore captured the Men's and Women's Open Masters titles at the concluding 45th Hong Kong International Open on Saturday.

Ismail had to work doubly hard in the championship match against second-seed and challenger, Ahmad Muaz for the victory. Muaz forced the all-Malaysian tie into a decider after he narrowly beat Ismail, 244-236.

But Muaz suffered an unlucky injury having torn the skin on two of his delivery fingers and had to painfully complete the match in defeat. Rafiq went on to take victory, 223-174 for his second title this month after having bagged the EBT Masters crown in Madrid, Spain.

Muaz dispatched third-seed and newly-crowned Youth Masters champion, Merwin Tan of Philippines and winner of the first match, Annop Arromsaranon of Thailand, 210-194-173 to advance to the title match.

Newly-crowned Open Masters champions, Rafiq Ismail and Iliya Syamim

Arromsaranon defeated fourth-seed, Lee Tak Man of Macau and sixth-seed, Enzo Hernandez of Philippines, 237-216-208 in the first stepladder match. The champion picked up the top prize of HK$60,000 (approx. US$7,600) leaving his team-mate with HK$25,000.

Tan pocketed HK$16,000 as second runner-up while Arromsaranon, Lee and Hernandez earned HK$8,000, HK$5,500 and HK$4,500 respectively for finishing fourth to sixth positions. In the earlier Stage 2 finals, Ismail totaled 1883 to advance to the stepladder finals as topseed.

Muaz, who trailed his compatriot since the third game, settled for second spot with 1848. Tan finish third with 1754 as Lee, Arromsaranon and Hernandez made the stepladder finals in fourth to sixth positions with 1745, 1735 and 1731.

Timmy Tan of Malaysia missed the cut by a single pin to end up in seventh position with 1730 while Hong Kong's best hope for a spot in the finals was Ivan Tse in eighth position with 1729. Fourth perfect gamer and top qualifier, Tun Hakim managed only in ninth position.

Men's Open Masters Top 3, Ahmad Muaz, Rafiq Ismail and Merwin Tan

Meanwhile, topseed Iliya Syamim needed only one match to bag her first international title after she out-classed challenger and third-seed, Nur Amirah Auni of Malaysia, 215-160 in the final. Amirah Auni suffered three opened frames while Syamim kept a clean game including three consecutive strikes in frames 6 to 8.

Amirah Auni defeated second-seed, Wong Son Ian of Macau and winner of the first match, Lara Poasads-Wong of Philippines, 228-211-221 to meet the topseed. Posadas-Wong edged fourth-seed, Nora Lyana Natasia of Malaysia and compatriot, Mades Arles, 199-161-178 in the opening steplader match.

The champion picked up the top prize of HK$30,000 (approx. US$3,800) while Amirah Auni took home HK$16,000. Posadas-Wong pocketed HK$8,000 as second runner-up while Wong, Arles and Lyana Natasia earned HK$4,000, HK$2,700 and HK$2,000 respectively for finishing fourth to sixth positions.

Syamim literally led from start to finish in the earlier Stage 2 finals to advance to the stepladder finals as topseed with 1794. Wong fired 222 in the final game to snatch second spot with 1751.

Nur Amirah Auni, Iliya Syamim and Lara Posadas-Wong with their trophies

Two Malaysians, Amirah Auni and Lyana Natasia finished third and fourth with 1749 and 1748. Alres, who survived a tie-breaking roll-off to qualify for Stage 1 finals and survived again to make Stage 2 finals in the last 15th position, made the stepladder finals in fifth with 1704. Posadas-Wong pulled out a big game of 222 to clinch sixth position with 1699.

Veronica De Souza missed the cut by ten pins in seventh position with 1689 while Hong Kong's Joey Yip, and Filipinas, Bea Hernandez and Alexis Sy, who all had a chance to make the stepladder finals before the final game, did not end as strong as thise who made the cut.

The top 16 Asian men and top 16 Asian women also qualified for the ABF Tour Hong Kong 2019 leg which will be held at the same bowling centre tomorrow morning. More than 400 bowlers from 13 Asian countries took part in this year championships following the successful hosting of the 20th Asian School Tenpin Bowling Championships held a week ago.

Photos by Terence Yaw in Hong Kong.

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