CHICAGO – Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., was named as 2011-12 Professional Bowlers Association Chris Schenkel Player of the Year Monday, concluding one of the most competitive Player of the Year contests in years.
Rash, who made a record five-consecutive television finals during the 2011 PBA World Series of Bowling and concluded his season with a victory in the PBA Tournament of Champions, was elected over a field of 11 eligible candidates in balloting conducted among his fellow PBA Tour competitors and veteran members of the bowling news media.
In the end, Rash received 29.04 percent of the Player of the Year votes, Australia’s Jason Belmonte 26.61 percent and Mike Fagan of Dallas 18.32 percent in the closest voting contest in years. Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., received 11.89 percent and Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla., 10.23 percent to round out the top five vote-getters.
The announcement was made live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel as a special kickoff to the made-for-television PBA Summer Shootout special event at 10pin bowling lounge in Chicago.
During the 2011-12 PBA Tour season, Rash, a 29-year-old right-hander, won the season-ending PBA Tournament of Champions for his only title, but had six championship round finishes, including third place in the PBA World Championship. Qualifying for a record five consecutive TV finals during the World Series of Bowling helped the Alaska native dominate PBA Tour stats where he finish first in average, points and earnings.
“We all had great seasons, but I think winning the TOC put a stamp on it,” Rash said. “I’m a stats guy. When I voted in the past, I voted by the numbers. They don’t lie. If one of those guys had won the TOC, he would have got my vote.
“I felt a big sign of relief,” he said of the moment PBA Commissioner Tom Clark announced his win. “It meant a lot to have the waiting finally over.
“Jason and Mike and I have bowled in 15 different countries during the past year. We travel around the world to stay sharp,” Rash added. “You take a lot of satisfaction after all of the travel, the practice, the sacrifices you make. We’ve made each other better.”
Belmonte, a 28-year-old two-handed player, won three titles, had championship round finishes, finished third in average and second in both points and earnings. Belmonte also finished third in the U.S. Open and Tournament of Champions, fourth in the PBA World Championship and ninth in the USBC Masters.
Fagan, a 31-year-old right-hander, won the Alka-Seltzer Plus Liquid Gels USBC Masters for his first major title and he won the Brunswick Euro Challenge in Paris, France. The Long Island, N.Y., native had three additional championship round finishes including second place in the U.S. Open and fourth place in the Tournament of Champions. Statistically, he was second in average, and third in points and earnings.
Also contending in the Player of the Year race were Weber, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, and Duke, three-time winner during the 2011-12 season.
The Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year Award is named in honor of the late hall of fame announcer who served as the voice of the PBA on ABC Television for 36 years.