26th July, Bangkok: 2017 Thailand Open champion, Zulmazran Zulkfli and newly-crowned Youth U21 champion, Nur Hazirah Bte Ramli of Malaysia ended the first block of qualifying of the 47th MWA-Singha Thailand International Open after topping Squad C.
Zulkifli set a blistering pace with a big opening game of 285 only to lead Hong Kong's Tony Wong by 21 pins, who shot 264. The two-handed Malaysian extended his lead to 31 pins with this year's Singapore Open first runner-up, Yannaphon Larpapharat of Thailand closing in to take second spot.
The leader added another superb game of 247 in his third game, stretching his lead to 64 pins as the Thai found it difficult to keep pace. By the fourth game, Zulkifli has amassed 982 and needed 226 or more to topple overall leader, Putana Buspanikonkul of Thailand.
But the Malaysian ended with 216 and fell short by just 9 pins with 1198. Buspanikonkul's 1207 was enough for him to retain the overall lead after all squads have completed their first block of 5 games. A second Thai, Surasak Manuwong stormed home to snatch second spot with 1135.
Hong Kong's Keith Mark edged Larpapharat for third spot in this squad with 1132 while the Thai slipped to fourth with 1129. Buspanikonkul, Manuwong and Larpapharat occupied the top 3 local qualifying spots which could earn a bye and automatically advance to Round 2 finals.
Zulkifli, Hussain Al Suwaidi of UAE and Hardy Rachmadian of Indonesia occupied the top 3 overseas qualifying spots and could automatically advance to Round 2 finals. Ahmad Muaz of Malaysia headed the Mixed pool with 1147.
Meanhile, Youth U21 Masterss champion, Nur Hazirah topped the women's division in Squad C with 1066. Alexis Sy of Philippines took second spot with 1048. Chawakorn Wutti was Thailand's best women finisher in third with 1034.
The Malaysian's effort only landed her in seventh position in the overall standings. Squad B leader, Charmaine Chang remained in the lead to head the top 3 overseas qualifiers. Sin Li Jane of Malaysia and Wang Yu Huei of Chinese Taipei claimed second and third positions.
Chawakorn led the top 3 local qualifiers ahead of Yanee Saebe in second and Thanakorn Wutti in third. Men qualifiers positioned 7 to 26 plus 4 qualifiers from the desperado squad and the women qualifiers positioned 7 to 22 plus 4 qualifiers from the desperado squad will make the cut for the Round 1 finals on July 29.
Qualifying will resume tomorrow for the second block of 5 games and a final 5 games in the third block on July 28.
Photos by Terence Yaw in Bangkok, Thailand.
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