SYAFIQ Ridhwan Abdul Malek is two matches away from becoming the first local champion in the AMF World Cup after the 26-year-old advanced to the three-field stepladder finals at Sky Centre in Wroclaw, Poland yesterday.
Syafiq, the national champion, first clinched a spot in the quarter-finals after finishing fifth with a 24-game total of 6,201 pinfalls on Friday.
The Taiwan Open champion needed a flawless display to finish in the top-three bracket yesterday and he did just that by winning six out of his eight match-play games for lines of 277, 216, 248, 165, 199, 256, 218 and 209 in the quarter-finals.
He recorded a combined 36-game total of 8,169 (including bonus pins) for third place. American Marshall Kent topped the leaderboard with an 8,339 series followed by Colombian Andres Gomez on 8,261.
National coach Holloway Cheah was delighted with Syafiq's display.
"It would be the greatest day for Malaysian bowling if he wins the title. I believe that if he controls his nerves and emotions, he will win the title," said Holloway.
"Syafiq has been trying a few options to master the lanes for the last few days and today (yesterday), he finally found the right strategy. He will face Gomez in the first match of the stepladder finals (late yesterday)."
In the women's section, Sin Li Jane, a gold medallist at the recent Asian Championships, ended her campaign by finishing fifth with a 36-game total of 8,109 pinfalls.
The AMF World Cup is the only world title not won by Malaysia. The late Michael Chuah was the first Malaysian to finish second in 1983, before Shalin Zukifli emulated it in 1996