Netherlands, Japan Claim Singles Gold at World Championships

by Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications 0

LAS VEGAS - The first medals of the 2017 World Bowling Championships have been awarded, with Xander van Mazijk of the Netherlands and Futaba Imai of Japan claiming the singles titles Monday at the South Point Bowling Plaza.

Van Mazijk, 25, was a toddler the last time a bowler from the Netherlands stood atop the medal stand at the World Championships, so his 224-190 victory against Wu Hao-Ming of Chinese Taipei in the men's final made for a historic and unforgettable World Championships debut for the right-hander.

A strike to start the final frame sealed the win for Van Mazijk, who followed a sixth-frame split with five consecutive strikes. Wu left splits in the fifth and ninth frames, his only two open frames of the championship round, and that opened the door for Van Mazijk to capture the first gold medal for the Netherlands since the 1995 World Championships in Reno, Nevada.

One of the Netherlands coaches this year in Las Vegas, Michael Sassen, was part of the championship run in 1995, claiming gold medals in trios, team and all-events. The country's last medal of any kind was a singles bronze medal in 1999.

"This is my first World Championships and second event for our national team, so it's all a new experience for me," Van Mazijk said. "I want to enjoy this and keep it going for the next week to improve my game in the other events. To win a gold medal for us is really special, and I have goosebumps right now. I'm starting to realize more what happened now than when I was on the lanes or the podium. It's a great feeling to win the first event of the week."

Van Mazijk, the No. 1 seed after Sunday's six games of qualifying, earned the opportunity to bowl for the title with a 204-174 win against Germany's Tobias Boerding. After Boerding tossed three strikes in the 10th frame, Van Mazijk opened his final frame with a strike to advance.

Wu, who utilizes the unique spinner release and opened qualifying with the tournament's lone 300 game, claimed his spot in Monday's championship match with a 226-165 win against Israel Hernandez of Puerto Rico. Hernandez failed to strike in five attempts on the right lane.

On the other side of the 60-lane South Point Bowling Plaza, Imai claimed the women's gold medal with a 191-163 win against Denmark's Mai Ginge Jensen.

The two exchanged open frames early in the match, before Imai registered the game's first strike in the fourth frame. Jensen posted back-to-back opens in the seventh and eighth frames and was unable to recover.

The victory marked Japan's first gold medal at the World Championships since 1991.

On the way to the gold-medal match, Imai spared the 3-6-10 combination in her final frame to sneak past Chan Han of Hong Kong, 213-207. Chan was clean in the effort, including one double, but consecutive strikes from Imai in frames five through eight gave the 21-year-old right-hander enough of a cushion.

Jensen's path to the final was dramatic, as well. In her semifinal meeting with top qualifier Hong Haeni of Korea, Jensen left a 4-9 split on the second shot of her 10th frame to give Hong the chance to advance with a double.

The left-hander struck on her first offering but left the 2-4-7 combination on her second shot. Jensen won 207-198.

Competition continues with two squads of men's doubles Monday afternoon, and the top four teams will advance to Tuesday's semifinals. The women take the lanes for doubles qualifying starting Tuesday at noon Eastern.

The men's and women's semifinals will take place simultaneously Tuesday beginning at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.

The 2017 World Championships will run until Dec. 4. The final two days of competition will be broadcast live on the Olympic Channel to a worldwide audience.

This year's tournament is a combined men's and women's event, which happens every four years. The 2013 World Championships at nearby Sunset Station in Henderson, Nevada, also was a combined event.

The field includes 213 men from 36 countries and 176 women from 30 countries.

Countries participating this year in Las Vegas include: Aruba, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, England, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States, Ukraine, Venezuela and Wales.

For more information on the 2017 World Championships, visit


South Point Bowling Plaza
Las Vegas

Monday's results


(Winner earns gold, loser gets silver)

Xander van Mazijk, Netherlands def. Wu Hao-Ming, Chinese Taipei, 224-190

(Winners advance, losers tie for bronze)

Van Mazijk def. Tobias Boerding, Germany, 204-174
Wu def. Israel Hernandez, Puerto Rico, 226-165


(Winner earns gold, loser gets silver)

Futaba Imai, Japan def. Mai Ginge Jensen, Denmark, 191-163

(Winners advance, losers tie for bronze)

Imai def. Chan Han, Hong Kong, 213-207
Jensen def. Hong Haeni, Korea, 207-198

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