8th September, Kuching: Ex-international, Bong Kihow of Sarawak, bagged the Classified Masters crown of the Sarawak International Open Bowling Championships 2023 ahead of Chinese Taipei's Chang Hsiang-Yu in second and Kuala Lumpur's Muhammad Hazim B Alihanafiah third.
Hong Kong's Stanley Lau got off the mark with a stunning 268 to take an early lead over Emmanuel Fo Yung Khee of Malaysia in second, 21 pins adrift. Penang's Ahmad Aidil Bin Abdul Halim took over the lead briefly followed by Matthew Ong Tzi Ming of Sunway Megalanes.
Ahmad's lead lasted only one game as Musayyar Bin Khalid of Malaysia surged into the lead after rolling 206, 242 and 258 in his first three games. Ilman Nazim Bin Roslim of Malaysia moved into second spot with 239, 245 and 214.
Bong, who had an average start with 196, added 253 and 229 before firing a sizzling 284 to become the fourth leader. Ahmad Aidil bounced back to share second spot with Muhammad Hazim, 33 pins behind the leader.
The 31-year-old Sarawakian continued his relentless pace with 259 and 264 in the fifth and sixth games to open up a commanding lead of 131 pins. Reigning Malaysian Open Women's Masters champion, Lavina Kho Jia Jie, who had been consistent in her first five games, moved into second spot.
Although Bong ended with 217, 212 and 228 in his last three games, his 9-game tally of 2142 did the job for him to win the title. The excitment was in the ninth and position-round match which was closely fought amongst Chang, Ahmad Aidil and Muhammad Hazim with less than 5 pins separating the trio.
The Taiwanese prevailed to finish second with 2033 while Muhammad Hazim overtook Ahmad Aidil for third position with 2025. Ahmad Aidil missed the podium by 11 pins to finish fourth with 2014 while Matthew Ong rounded up the top 5 with 1995.
The top prize of RM20,000 (approx. US$4,280) went to Bong as a windfall for his up-coming wedding later this month. Chang took home RM10,000 as first runner-up and Muhammad Hazim pocketed RM4,000 as second runner-up. Muhammad Hazim, who made the finals thanks to winning last night's RM1,000 prize with the highest score of 268 in the second Joker Squad.
Photos by Terence Yaw in Kuching, Sarawak.