Rafiq Ismail

NATIONAL coach Holloway Cheah is putting his money on world champion Rafiq Ismail to win his maiden Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour title in the United States later this month.

Rafiq, 22, will be making his third appearance on the tour on Aug 24-31, and will be joined by compatriot, Tun Hakim Tun Hasnul Azam.

Having failed to impress in his previous stints, Holloway is confident Rafiq, who is enjoying the best form of his life, will shine this time.

Following successful outings in last year’s Indonesia Asian Games (masters gold) and World Championships (singles gold), Rafiq started the first half of this year rather slowly.

Things, however, picked up for the Kuala Lumpur-born, who went on to win four titles at the Singapore Open, EBT Masters in Madrid, Hong Kong Open and the ABF Tour Hong Kong leg.

Rafiq also won three gold at the recent Inter-State Championships to help KL emerge overall champions, and finished fourth in the National Championships.

“There’s no stopping Rafiq once he hits top gear,” said Holloway.

“Rafiq is enjoying the best form of his life, and I would love to see him make his name on the PBA Tour.

“He has already conquered Asia, Europe and the world meet, so it is time for him to win in the US.”

Rafiq and Tun Hakim will compete in the three-event PBA Summer Swing series which comprise the Wolf Open, Bear Open and the Illinois Open.

“In the PBA Tour, the oiling pattern is such that left-handed bowlers hardly make top three in tournaments.

“Let’s hope for things to open up a little more for him this year.

“The last time Rafiq played in a lefty-friendly event (Chameleon Championship), he took full advantage to finish top eight.

“This time, I am putting my money on him simply because he is one of the best left-handed bowlers in the world,” added Holloway.

Both Rafiq and Tun Hakim, who are self-funding their trip, will leave for the US on Aug 19.