Rebecca Whiting has won the 55th QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup in Palembang, Indonesia by defeating Aumi Guerra from the Dominican Republic 172-162.
The QubicaAMF World Cup is the most prestigious amateur singles event in the sport of bowling and the largest annual international sports championship in terms of participating nations. Contesting World cup glory in year 2019 were over 80 countries. Australia performed better than the rest. The country from down under would also provide a World champion for the ninth time in the events 55-year history.
A 29-year-old from Victoria would be left standing after the gruelling eight-day event. “Bec” would become the sixth Australian female to win the illustrious event. The victory draping Whiting in the well-known winner yellow sash with the wording – World Cup Champion.
“It has a nice ring to it!” said an excited Whiting. “I am still in a bit of shock and it hasn’t really sunk in that I just won the World Cup. Might take me a few days I think.”
Australia entered the famous tournament sporting a familiar duo in Whiting and 2018 World Cup champion Sam Cooley. This was to be Whiting’s fourth consecutive appearance at the World Cup with past appearances providing key learnings to become World Cup champion.
“The World Cup is a very long tournament so for me it was staying patient. Qualifying is 24 games, so you don’t need to come out of the blocks swinging. You can take the time to learn the pattern and how it plays in different parts of the day,” said an experienced Whiting. “I also think watching Sam win the title last year also helped me because I saw what he went through and also having him in my corner for the final was a huge help too.”
Monday saw official competition begin with the Qualifying rounds first on the agenda. The qualifying rounds would see bowlers bowl six games for four days with a total of 24 games.
“In qualifying I felt like I didn’t give it my all and was quite disappointed in how I performed,” said Whiting.
Defending champion Cooley also started off slow in the qualifying rounds but knew there was still time to make up the pins as the week went on. The chance to defend a world title comes with extra pressure and challenges which Cooley faced head on throughout the week.
“I knew going into the tournament I was going to be asked a lot about being defending champion and the pressures involved,” explained Cooley. “The media thrives on these articles and interviews and mostly set you up to fail unintentionally, as it is now set in the very back of your mind that you’ve done well before and you need to do it again. I did my best to ignore these questions and only answer in the most positive way possible at the time.”
Albeit a self-confessed slow start for both bowlers, the talented duo still managed to qualify for stage two which would see the top 24 bowl a further 8 games which saw momentum start to happen for the Aussies.
“When the top 24 happened I really found some of my old form. I made good ball choices and was able to get some big scores on the board which I had struggled with all week,” said Whiting.
With the scoring pace considered quite low, a grind was in store for the players and made sparing key to success.
“At the end of the day I think my sparing is what got me so far, I spared great all week, think I managed to get to 102 single pin conversions in a row before a missed a ten pin,” explained a proud Whiting.
Both Aussies would qualify for stage 3 where the top 8 bowlers would compete in the quarter finals round robin format. 30 pins for a win, 15 for a tie and 0 for a loss. The completion of the eight games would provide a total of a 40 game pinfall plus bonus to provide the top four finalists.
Whiting would win five of her seven and cement her spot in the top 4 TV show where she was joined by Kelly Kulick, Natasha Roslan and Aumi Guerra.
Cooley would also start firing on all cylinders in crunch time.
“I had the great start in match play winning 4/4 and shooting good numbers along with the 30 bonus pins so I knew I was climbing the standings quickly,” explained Cooley.
His quick climb enabled Cooley to finish in second position and enter the Top 4 show with Oliver Morig, Ryan Leonard Laisang and Francois Louw.
Both Australians would qualify for the top four TV show. A feat that no other country accomplished this year. An achievement that provided the country with the prize of top country at the World Cup. The third time Australia has accomplished the honour.
“Qualifying 2nd and playing Ryan was always going to be…interesting,” said Cooley. A matchup against home town bowler Ryan Leonard Laisang from Indonesia made it a hard atmosphere to perform in.
“The entire local support group and Ryan against me,” described Cooley. “It was literally chaotic applause versus the occasional clap.”
Cooley would bow out against the hometown bowler 239-158 in the semi-final.
“In our match I did everything I could to carry the corner pins, but the results were the same until the game was virtually over. I came back with the full intention of repeating the win but in one game it wasn’t to be, so next time will be different.”
South African Francouis Louw would defeat Lalisang 237-202 to become the male world cup champion.
“I’m guttered for him that he didn’t go all the way this year, he bowled really well all week and a tough pair at the end cost him,” said Whiting. “But hey we get to walk away with Best Country at the World Cup, that’s amazing!”
Whiting would progress through to the final after defeating Malaysian bowler Natasha Roslan 199-176 in the semi-final. After leading from the front all tournament, American legend Kelly Kulick would faulter and allow 2011 World Cup winner Aumi Guerra from the Dominican Republic to face the Aussie in the final after falling 194-179.
The final matchup provided a close low scoring affair with nerves evident from both bowlers.
“I don’t think I stopped shaking at all for both my matches. Normally I am quite a calm person but yesterday I just couldn’t control it,” admitted Whiting. “She kept leaving the door open for me to run away with it, so I was pretty disappointed when I kept leaving the door open for her too.”
With the match progressing as a tight tussle throughout, the seventh frame provided a key moment that may have pointed to it being Whiting’s day. After Whiting’s first delivery providing a 2-4-10 split to spare, Whiting completed the spare with some luck.
“That seventh frame was absolutely magical, it was pure luck because the pin bounced off the back to the take the 10 out.”
“The pair we were on was quite hard to match up on. We were only allowed two practice balls on each lane and we both found it quite tricky. I wanted to make a ball change in the 9th and 10th frame but Sam told me to stick with the ball that had got me that far all week and just throw good shots.”
As the game progressed and the possibility of world cup glory drew closer, the Australian found it hard to watch.
“I couldn’t even watch Aumi’s last frame, I had to walk away… but as soon as her ball hit the pins and the crowd was super quiet, I knew she must have left some pins on the deck. My jaw hit the ground and then the tears just started flowing,” said Whiting.
Advice from the defending champion Cooley was a welcome gift to Whiting throughout the week.
“Sam has a bucket load of knowledge that he has learnt on the pro tour. We had some good chats during qualifying about what surfaces would work best on what balls and we just went from there.”
Even though Cooley experienced disappointment moments before the final, he found it hard to contain his excitement for his friend who he has partnered at the event for many years.
“Watching Bec win the title a year after my win brought back very similar emotions, and after talking with both of her parents and congratulating them all it was amazing to watch. I’ve known them for years and the sacrifices they make to be out there at every event to watch Bec compete, and seeing the emotions come out at the end is what it’s all about.”
As Cooley alluded to, Whiting would have a solid support crew by her side throughout the week.
“I had a great support crew behind me, it feels so good to turn around and see people cheering you on. They rode every single shot with me this past week and I can’t thank them enough. They all took time out of their busy lives and take time away from work to come watch me bowl, it’s pretty special,” said an appreciative Whiting.
“I managed to make them all cry including my dad, so I did a pretty good job,” said Whiting with a laugh.
Whiting joins Jeanette Baker, Cara Honeychurch, Maxine Nable, Amanda Bradley and Ann-Maree Putney as the only Australian females to be crowned World Cup champions. Sam Cooley and Jason Belmonte are the only males that have won the event, pointing to the difficult task involved in going all the way.
“To have my name next to theirs in the history books is such a surreal feeling and to follow in their footsteps makes me feel so happy to call myself Australian,” explained an excited Whiting. “They are some of the best bowlers our countries ever seen.”
2019 Tenpin Bowling Australia Hall of Fame inductee Ann-Maree Putney (AMP) was the last female to win the event in 2007. A bowler that has had a mark on Whiting’s career to date to help replicate the achievement twelve years later.
“AMP (Putney) is a really great friend of mine and took me under her wing as I made my way into the Australian team. To be the next Australian winner after her is really special,” admitted Whiting.
Since the win, Whiting has been flooded with support from back home which she is very grateful for.
“I would just like to thank the Australian bowling community and also my friends and family back home for all their support this week,” expressed Whiting. “Seeing all the comments on Facebook has been really heart-warming. I hope this win helps boost female bowling in Australia and gets us back up there as one of the world’s best countries.”
It was announced at the conclusion of the event that the 2020 World Cup would be in Kuwait.
An amazing week by two amazing bowlers. Australia awarded the best performing country at the World Cup. A top four finish for Sam Cooley after a 2018 World Cup title. Bec Whiting now a World Cup champion. Two Australian bowlers coming home victorious in back to back years.
Full coverage and results available here.