Jason Belmonte Wins Record-Tying Seventh Chris Schenkel PBA Player Of The Year Award
Belmonte’s commanding 2022 season results in his seventh Player of the Year award in 10 seasons, tying Walter Ray Williams Jr. for the most such awards in PBA history.
After winning a single-season, career-high five titles, including the 14th major of his career at the PBA Players Championship, Jason Belmonte was named the 2022 Chris Schenkel PBA Player Of The Year.
Belmonte received 62.9% of the votes by PBA members and the media. Anthony Simonsen, who took home a pair of major titles in 2022, finished second in the voting with 18.8%. Kyle Troup, who won this award in 2021, finished third with 8.3% of the vote.
“I am not naive to the level of difficulty it is to win Player of the Year,” Belmonte said. “It's a culmination of hard work, sacrifice, travel, mental and physical exhaustion. Whilst I was quietly confident to get that call (from PBA Commissioner Tom Clark), you get a big sigh of relief because you felt confident and then you get this very overwhelming feeling of reward.”
This award marks the seventh of Belmonte’s career, tying Walter Ray Williams Jr. for the most in PBA history. While Williams Jr.’s Player of the Year awards spanned from 1986-2010, a testament to his unprecedented longevity, Belmonte has won all seven awards in the past 10 seasons.
“Walter Ray, the man is a living legend and someone who I see as the best player that I've ever seen,” Belmonte said after the Tour Finals in June, when asked about the prospect of tying Williams Jr. “To equal him is a huge accomplishment and something I'm very, very proud of, but it also motivates me to get one more, just one more and and have that title all to myself.”
The excellence of Williams Jr., who holds the record with 47 career PBA Tour titles, inspired Belmonte early in his career. Belmonte described equaling Dead Eye with seven Player of the Year awards as “mind-bending.” He said he grew up watching Williams Jr. and wondering how anyone could be so dominant.
Over time, Belmonte grew to view Williams Jr.’s staggering list of accomplishments in a different light.
“If he can do it, then someone else can,” Belmonte said. “So why not me?”
The 39-year-old led the tour with $302,525 in earnings, 34,230 points, five titles, eight top-five finishes and 13 top-10 finishes. His 224.38 average over a tour-high 380 games ranked second behind EJ Tackett.
Belmonte separated himself from his peers in championship rounds: He compiled a 16-4 record on national television and a 20-4 overall record. Title match wins over Player of the Year contenders Simonsen (PBA Scorpion Championship), Dom Barrett (PBA Tour Finals) and Tackett (The Storm Cup: Lubbock Sports Open) proved critical to his Player of the Year campaign.
“I want to thank my family for the support that they give me through an entire season,” Belmonte said. “A really massive thank you to Storm Bowling, Bill and Barbara Chrisman and Dave Symes, and to my tour reps, Jim Callahan and Shawn Ryan. All of those people, if not for the unwavering support and advice, it’s so much harder to do what I do, and do it as well as I do.”
The dominant 2022 campaign followed a down year, by Belmonte’s standards. In 2021, he went without a title for the first time since 2016 and reached just one championship round.
“I'm typically not someone who really focuses on the narrative, but there was enough said (like), ‘The reign of the king is done,’ and that got to me,” Belmonte said. “I really wanted to come back in the 2022 season, start off strong and put my foot back down as the authority, as if to say ‘Look, I had a very average year in 2021, but those aren’t going to be coming again.’”
That tenacity fueled Belmonte’s season-opening major victory at the PBA Players Championship. He won six consecutive matches on TV, culminating with his “I’m back!” declaration after defeating Sean Rash in the title match.
Belmonte’s remarkable track record in major championships continued in 2022. For the first time in his career, he finished in the top 10 in each of the five majors.
“The part that I'm most proud of with the five (titles) this year was the consistency from beginning to end of the season,” Belmonte said. “The way that the Tour Finals went, with the 300 game and then really dominating that final match, was a big tick for me to say, ‘The last tournament you bowled, you might have performed the best in’ and that was a huge positive for me to take out of this season.”
Belmonte said the moment he will remember the most from the 2022 season is his “I’m back” assertion at the PBA Players Championship.
“That's something I’ll definitely remember is the comeback after an average season, hearing the narrative, and then making sure that people realize: I’ll call it quits on my career when I'm ready — not the other way around,” Belmonte said.
Kyle Troup, 2021
Jason Belmonte, 2020
Jason Belmonte, 2019
Andrew Anderson, 2018
Jason Belmonte, 2017
EJ Tackett, 2016
Jason Belmonte, 2015
Jason Belmonte, 2014
Jason Belmonte, 2013
Sean Rash, 2012
Complete list of Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year winners