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American claims maiden tour victory

17th March, Kuwait: American PBA pro and top seed, Sean Rash claimed his maiden World Bowling Tour title after defeating challenger, Mika Koivuniemi of Finland, 234-201 in the title match of the PBA-WBT #6 10th Kuwait International Open.

Rash started the match with a double but Koivuniemi matched the American's stride with a double in the second and third frames. The top seed reeled in three strikes-in-a-row while the Finn could only spared his three subsequent frames.

A split from Rash in the seventh frame settled Koivuniemi when he struck thrice thereafter. Rash had another nasty split in the eight frame but managed to convert it to the delight of the large crowd which had gathered at Cozmo Bowling Centre to witness a world-class final.

Trailing by nine pins, Rash struck in the ninth frame to have some hope of wrapping up the tie in one match. Koivuniemi had to either strike or mark his tenth frame but rolled a big 6-pin split which he failed to spare ending with 201.

Rash took his time to line up his tenth shot and when he struck, the American shouted with delight knowing that he had finally nailed his first World Bowling Tour title. He rounded off with another strike in the 11th frame and a nine pin count for 234.

Men Champion
Sean Rash with the champion's trophy and cheque

"I've been extremely unlucky not to have won a World Tour title," said the 27-year-old 2012 PBA Player of the Year from Montgomery, Illinois, USA, who has had at least eighth seconds and a dozen stepladder appearances in the tour.

"The first split was a bad luck and the second split was a poor shot. My Brunswick team-mate Tom Hess converted a similar one two days ago and I thought I gave it a try.

"Sparing the second split was crucial and when I struck in the tenth, it must have put pressure on my opponent. This is also my first international title after been to so many and I'm really looking forward to win more."

Koivuniemi had earlier edged defending champion and third-seed, Osku Palermaa 238-228 in an all-Finn semi-final match to earn a chance to claim a back-to-back title after winning the Kingdom of Bahrain Open last week.

Palermaa sailed past winner of the first match and fourth-seed, Sandra Andersson of Sweden, 279-176 to set up the match with his compatriot, Koivuniemi. Andersson ousted fifth-seed, Ronnie Russell of USA, 226-185 in the first stepladder match to advance.

Rash picked up the top prize of US$25,000 and 50 World Bowling Tour ranking points and Koivuniemi settled for US$12,000 as first runner-up. Palermaa earned US$8,000 for finishing third while Andersson and Russell took home US$6,000 and US$5,000 respectively.

Women Champion
Sandra Andersson receiving her prize from Veronica Rajii Kerbs with Sheikh Talal Al-Sabah

Palermaa took third spot with 3032 and Andersson survived a scare after rolling 165 in her final game but finished fourth with 2939. Russell clinched the fifth and final stepladder spot with 2934 edging out Martin Larsen of Sweden by 1 pin.

Rash rolled the eighth 300 during the Round 5 4-match stage and Palermaa shot the ninth 300 in the first match of the Modified Matchplay finals. Tannya got the tenth 300 in the first match of the Women's Stepladder finals.

Mr Kevin Dornberger, President of WTBA and FIQ presented the top prize to the champion accompanied by Sheikh Talal Al-Sabah, President of Asian Bowling Federation. Mr Kyohei Akagi, Honorary Life President of WTBA presented the second prize.

The World Tenpin Bowling Association, which is made up of 115 bowling federations, governs the sport throughout the world. For more information on WTBA and the World Bowling Tour, visit www.worldtenpinbowling.com.

Photos by Terence Yaw in Kuwait.

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