He may be too young for the slot machines, but Jaris Goh was certainly a one-armed bandit at the QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup in Las Vegas.
The 20-year-old claimed third spot among an elite field of 86 - matching former world champion Remy Ong's finish at the 2004 edition on home soil.
With compatriot Geraldine Ng placing fourth out of 71 women, Singapore won the top country award for the first time.
The annual tournament is regarded as the sport's most prestigious amateur singles event. National keglers Jasmine Yeong-Nathan and Shayna Ng clinched the women's titles in 2008 and 2012 respectively.
Goh, who finished 37th in Poland last year, was "equally happy and surprised" to surpass his target of qualifying for the top 24.
"I was in the flow these couple of days, just focusing on me, myself and the pins. It worked, for the most part," he said during a phone interview yesterday.
The Republic Polytechnic student led for the first two days, dropping slightly to qualify sixth out of eight for the final round at Sam's Town Bowling Centre.
The youngster averaged a healthy 216 pinfalls over 40 games.
But he fell 0-2 in his semi-final to eventual winner Wu Siu Hong of Hong Kong. The Singaporean posted 173 and 194 pinfalls, which fell short of his opponent's 198 and 223 pinfalls.
Singapore Bowling Federation technical director Mervyn Foo paid tribute to Goh and 29-year-old Ng for lifting the best country title.
He said: "It is a well-deserved accolade - Jaris and Geraldine prepared really well for this tournament along with their coaches.
"This could be a turning point in Jaris' career. He has had a quiet few years and he didn't meet his own expectations at the SEA Games.
"He's capable of even bigger things to come."
Goh narrowly missed out on the bronze in the men's team and trios categories at June's SEA Games in Singapore.
He first rose to prominence in 2010, snaring two golds and a silver to emerge as the top performer at the Asian Schools Tenpin Bowling Championships.
At the 2013 Commonwealth Bowling Championships, he struck gold in the men's doubles along with Javier Tan.
Back to his predatory prime on the lanes, Goh hopes his Las Vegas heroics will carry over to the Milo International Junior All-Stars in Kuala Lumpur later this month.
He said: "I'm a smarter and more composed bowler than I was one year ago.
"I will keep training hard, listen to my coaches, and see how far it takes me."
This article was first published on November 21, 2015.
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