SINGAPORE – After years of hard work, Darren Ong’s persistence finally paid off as he clinched his first individual national title with a win at the Philippine Bowling Federation (PBF) 4th Philippine International Open on Sunday.
At the Coronado Lanes, Starmall EDSA Shaw in Mandaluyong City, Ong qualified in second spot for the stepladder final with a 1,718 pinfall total behind Malaysia’s Syafiq Ridhwan (1,731) and ahead of the latter’s compatriot Azriq Izamuddin (1,673).
Ong first beat Azriq 214-203 to advance to the championship round, before defeating Syafiq 248-175 before lifting the trophy.
“It will definitely be a special one being my first open title and being an international one adds to that,” said Ong, who was part of the men’s team that won a historic silver at the International Bowling Federation 2021 Super World Championship.
The closest the 27-year-old had come to winning a national open event was in 2018 when he finished second at the Hong Kong Open.
But Ong believes his game has developed significantly since that outing in Hong Kong, saying: “It’s been almost five years since that tournament so I have definitely improved on my skills and mental game since then.
“Starting the masters event, I did not think of my previous performance and how I fell short the last time but instead focus on the present and what I can control, which are my emotions and physical game.”
Patience was key for the bowler’s success in the Philippines. Ong said: “I didn’t bowl any big games and was consistent with my scores throughout the masters event. The support of my coaches and teammates played a big part in it as well, I couldn’t have done it without them.”
“I was fortunate to start off well during the first day of the tournament by bowling a good score; that gave me confidence and took off some pressure. The lanes were tricky and wasn’t very high scoring so getting a good lane draw was important and taking advantage of that was essential in qualifying.”
In the ladies’ open, Singapore’s Jazreel Tan finished third after losing 209-191 to Malaysian Siti Safiyah Amirah in the stepladder final.
The 33-year-old progressed to the stepladder final as the second seed with a 1,659 pinfall total behind eventual champion Alexis Sy (1,665) from the Philippines and ahead of Safiyah (1,645).
Tan said: “I’m still dealing with issues with my physical game from before but I tried to deal with it as best as I can and I think it was okay. Hopefully it’s a step in the right direction.”