HONG KONG - Despite making the medal round in three of the first four events at the 2018 World Bowling Men's Championships, the bowlers from Canada entered the final day of the tournament without a gold medal.
Mitch Hupé was able to change that Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Team USA's Kyle Troup in the tournament-ending Masters event, successfully defending the title for Canada at the same time.
After the two tied at 192 in the opening game of the best-of-three championship match, Hupé won a one-ball roll-off, 10-9, to take the 1-0 advantage. Hupé could've won the game outright, but he left a 10 pin on the first shot of his final frame and a 5 pin on his fill ball to force the tie.
Hupé started the second game with three consecutive strikes, and four strikes in his first five frames. He never gave Troup a chance to gain any momentum, but the 23-year-old Canadian again was unable to seal the deal in the 10th frame.
He had a chance to lock up the title with a strike and a spare, but after tossing the strike, he left a 4-6-7 split. He toppled the 4 pin and the 7 pin, but that gave Troup a chance to throw three strikes in his final frame for another tie. Troup left a 4 pin on his first shot, and Hupé escaped with a 202-190 victory.
"We bowled pretty well here as a team, so it was pretty disappointing to come so close so many times and not come away with a gold medal before today," Hupé said. "This definitely is a nice way to end the week, and being able to successfully defend the title was pretty cool. I think this tournament emphasizes that we are being a team to take note of, and we'll continue working to improve."
At the 2017 World Bowling World Championships in Las Vegas, Francois Lavoie came away with the Masters gold medal.
The two-day Masters event started with the top 24 competitors from the all-events standings, based on their 24-game pinfall totals from singles, doubles, trios and team (six games each).
The top eight performers earned first-round byes, while the No. 9-24 seeds battled Tuesday in the initial best-of-three head-to-head matches. The top eight joined them starting Wednesday with the second round.
On the way to the title at the South China Athletic Association Bowling Centre, Hupé, the No. 20 seed for the Masters, dispensed of the top four players from the tournament's all-events standings.
After topping No. 14 Jojoe Yannaphon of Thailand (2-1) in the opening round of match play, Hupé went on to defeat No. 1 EJ Tackett of the United States (2-0) and Tackett's teammate, No. 2 Andrew Anderson (2-1).
That set up his semifinal meeting with fellow Canadian Dan MacLelland, who finished third in all-events. Hupé downed MacLelland in two games and earned the opportunity to take on Troup, the No. 4 seed.
In the all-Canada semifinal, the teammates exchanged five-count splits early in the opening game, but Hupé was clean from the third frame on to take the 1-0 advantage, 199-176.
In the second game, Hupé rallied back from an 8-10 split in the fourth frame with four consecutive strikes and held on for a 224-221 victory.
MacLelland took home a Masters bronze medal, one of five medals he earned at the tournament. His success included additional bronze-medal performances in doubles, team and all-events and a silver medal in singles.
Troup's path to the title tilt included a first-round bye and then wins over Finland's No. 13 Jari Ratia of Finland (2-1) and No. 9 Mattias Wetterberg of Sweden (2-0) to set up a semifinal meeting with Ireland's Chris Sloan, who qualified in sixth.
Troup, a 27-year-old two-hander, advanced to the championship match with a 2-0 victory over Sloan, a fellow two-hander. On the way to wins of 230-226 and 245-220, Troup threw a different ball on each lane.
In the opening game, Troup followed a third-frame 2-10 split with six consecutive strikes, before another split, a 3-10, ended the run. He made the spare and got nine on his fill ball to force Sloan to strike on his first 10th-frame shot. Sloan also left the 3-10 combination, allowing Troup to take the advantage in the match.
The second game was a see-saw battle, in which the players combined for 18 strikes. The difference came in the sixth frame when Troup converted the 3-4-6-7-9-10 split. He followed the spare with six consecutive strikes and never gave Sloan a chance.
Sloan earned a bronze medal for his effort, marking the first time in history Ireland has appeared on the medal stand at the World Championships.
The tournament also was special for Indonesia, which celebrated its first men's medal in World Championships competition, a silver in trios.
Italy then stole the spotlight in the coveted team event, defeating the defending champion and top-seeded Team USA for the gold medal. It was Italy's second medal overall and first since a bronze in the team event in 1971.
In addition to the Masters success in his first World Championships, Troup also took home a gold medal in trios with Anderson and Tackett, silver in team and bronze in singles. Troup missed an all-events medal by 27 pins.
Last month, the first-time Team USA member debuted at the 2018 QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup, where he led wire to wire, including a 300 game along the way, before falling to Australia's Sam Cooley in the championship match.
Finding success in his two events with Team USA reminded Troup how special it is to represent the United States on the lanes.
"To be a world champion is a dream come true, especially to be able to share it with two of my best friends, EJ and Andrew," Troup said. "That was a very special moment. It's a moment I'll remember forever. Winning a gold medal was a goal of mine from the minute I made the team back in January, and this definitely will give me a lot of confidence heading into the next (Professional Bowlers Association) Tour season. I hope to build off of this and have a great 2019."
All 265 competitors at the 2018 World Men's Championships bowled 24 games this week (six games in singles, doubles, trios, team), and medals also were awarded for all-events.
Singles and doubles both were won by Malaysia, before Anderson, Tackett and Troup took the trios title. Tackett added the all-events gold to his haul.
Anderson and Tackett also earned the silver medal in doubles, while Anderson and Troup were the singles bronze medalists. Anderson claimed the all-events silver medal as well.
The United States topped the medal table with eight medals, Canada was second with six and Malaysia and Korea earned two each. Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Singapore and Sweden all earned one apiece.
All qualifying rounds at the 2018 World Men's Championships were livestreamed by World Bowling, and all medal rounds were broadcast to the United States and Canada by FloBowling.
For more information on the 2018 World Men's Championships, visit 2018wmc.worldbowling.org.
2018 WORLD BOWLING MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIPS
South China Athletic Association Bowling Centre
(Winner earns gold, loser gets silver)
Mitch Hupé, Canada, def. Kyle Troup, United States, 2-0 (192-192 (10-9), 202-190)
(Winners advance, losers each earn bronze)
Hupé def. Dan MacLelland, Canada, 2-0 (199-176, 224-221)
Troup def. Christopher Sloan, Ireland, 2-0 (230-226, 245-220)