Grand titles for Singaporean and Aussie

11th August, Jakarta: Singapore Sports School's, Bernice Lim won her first major victory by claiming the Women's crown while Australia's Jason Belmonte clinched the Men's title of the 5th Indonesia International Open at Jaya Ancol Bowl.  Singapore's 15-year-old Bernice Lim couldn't ask for a better outing in her first senior masters finals but had to work hard for the victory. The top-seed was forced into a sudden-death match after narrowly loosing the first to Malaysia's Trish Khoo, 156-169.

After some encouraging words from her coach, Adam Chew who was sitting beside her during the match, Bernice quickly settled down to her usual self. And apart from a miss in her opening frame, the champion knocked down two crucial strikes and made sure she had no open frames.

Bernice won the deciding match, 186-172 to win her first-ever major international title after a disappointing 9th in the Youth Girls Under 23 finals two days ago. The Singapore Sports School student was 11th in the first block but surprised a strong field to edge Hong Kong's Chan Shuk Han for top-seed with a total of 3229.

Trish Khoo, who was recently promoted to the Malaysian national backup squad after winning the Thailand International Youth title in May this year, again settled for second. The 19-year-old had two days ago, finished second in the Youth Girls Under 23 masters.

The Malaysian earned a crack at the title after she knocked out, Chan Shuk Han and fellow-countrywomen, Lai Kin Ngoh, 215-189-199 in the women's second stepladder match. Lai progressed into the second match after she disposed off fourth-seed and local favourite, Shalima Zalsha and first block leader, Kim Eun Jung of Korea, 189-174-160 in the first match.

Bernice was richer by Rupiah 40 million (US$4,000) while Trish took home Rupiah 20 million and Chan settled for Rupiah 12.5 million. Lai, who was sixth-seed moved up to fourth relegating Shalima and Kim to fifth and sixth positions respectively.

Meanwhile, The 24-year-old Aussie, who lost to another Korean, Joung Seong Joo in March this year at the Malaysian International Open, this time round defeated challenger and Korea's Jun Byung-Oh, 214-204 to claim his first Asian title.

Jason Belmonte's last Asian victory was the 2006 Milo International Junior All Stars in December when he was able to compete in the youth division. The champion started the final stepladder match against Jun with a 5 bagger to take a commanding lead at the halfway mark but a minor split in the sixth frame did not deter his determination.

Despite responding with a turkey from frame four, the Korean simply had no answer the blistering pace the Aussie set and had to settle for the runners-up spot. Jun, who was seed second, just could not repeat the fire he set when he ousted third-seed, Zulmazran Zulkifli of Malaysia and winner of the first match, Lee Young-Jun, 249-158-202 to set up the match with Belmonte.

His teammate, Lee easily disposed off fifth-seed, Andrew Frawley of Australia and sixth-seed, Saeed Al-Hajri of Qatar, 246-151-214 in the men's stepladder finals. Belmonte took home Indonesian Rupiah 100 million (US$10,000) while Jun settled for Rupiah 60 million.

"The lanes today was even more difficult than yesterday but fortunately I made all my spares," said the relaxed Belmonte after finishing as topseed with 3463 after the two blocks finals played over two days.

"I was leading about 55 pins going into the final game and I knew that if the Korean shot 260, I had to at least finish with a minimum of 220. So when I shot 224, I knew I had pole firmly in my hands. It's a fanstatic feeling to win here in Jakarta and it's better than winning elsewhere in the world.

A total of 420 bowlers took part in the 5th Indonesia International Open which was made up from 24 countries. 260 participants were from overseas while the rest from Indonesia. "This has by far our most successful championship in its fifth year and a total of 3439 masters qualifying attempts were entered by the bowlers", said Oky Harwanto, the organizing chairman during a press conference at the end of the stepladder finals.

"But good things do sometimes have to come to an end as our five year contract to host the Indonesia Open has ended and we will hand the hosting back to the Indonesian Bowling Federation. However, we are confident that with the support from Jaya Ancol Bowling and our hard working committee members, we may see our own international open in the future.

Detailed scores: Women's Open Stepladder | Men's Open Stepladder | Photo Album.

Photos by Terence Yaw.