Five Preseason Candidates for 2023 PBA Rookie of the Year
Last season, Santtu Tahvanainen became the fourth international player to win the Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year award. He joined the Tour at the World Series of Bowling and earned a top-10 finish in his debut tournament, setting the tone for his freshman campaign.
The Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year honors the top newcomer each season. Sometimes, the award becomes a footnote to a legendary career, as seen with Jesper Svensson (2014), EJ Tackett (2013), Jason Belmonte (2009) and Bill O’Neill (2006). Other times, winning Rookie of the Year represents the apex of a player’s PBA tenure.
With the 2023 Guaranteed Rate PBA Tour now less than two weeks away, it’s time to consider potential Rookie of the Year candidates. A fresh crop of players each season makes this a difficult award to forecast, but here are a few rookies to watch entering the 2023 PBA Tour:
The Favorite: Cortez Schenck
It’s not often a presumed front-runner for Rookie of the Year exists before the season. But Cortez Schenck is, in many ways, an exception.
Schenck represented Junior Team USA six consecutive years from 2016-2021, including one year on the adult team, and has earned nine gold medals wearing the red, white and blue. In 2018, he won the gold medal at the World Bowling Youth Championships and the U.S. Amateur Championship.
The Arizona native elevated to the pro ranks last season. His debut at the West Regional Finals of the Players Championship, where he pushed eventual champion Belmonte to the brink, appeared to be foreshadowing a Rookie of the Year campaign.
Unfortunately, Schenck’s father passed away not long after the Players Championship and Schenck didn’t touch a ball for months. While he bowled the Masters, 2023 will be his rookie season as he bowled in fewer than three PBA Tour events in 2022.
In June, he began competing on the regional tour, winning his first two tournaments en route to earning the West Region’s top freshman honors.
Schenck may be the on-paper favorite, at least to this writer, but he’ll be up against a plethora of uber-talented and accomplished rookies. The following candidates are listed in alphabetical order.
Lane tested the waters on the regional tour last season, where his six top-10 finishes and one title netted him South Region Rookie of the Year award.
His road to PBA Tour Rookie of the Year goes through many pre-tournament qualifiers far from his Florida roots, but the guy’s name is literally Lane — he was born to bowl.
The Las Vegas native has been among the nation’s top amateurs for several years, finishing third at the U.S. Amateur Championship in 2022. The former Junior Team USA member was a First Team All-American in 2018-19 at UNLV.
After years of preparation, Leong has decided to make the leap to the Tour.
Mosley’s run at the USBC Masters back in 2017, when the then-16-year-old finished tied-13th in the major, might be familiar to PBA fans. The right-hander has a low, smooth arm swing, but he rips the cover off the ball.
He’ll kick off his freshman campaign in his hometown of Indianapolis at the U.S. Open.
PBA fans got a glimpse of Stubler at the 2022 PBA Collegiate Invitational, and the southpaw is set to join the Tour following his exemplary career at St. Ambrose University. He earned back-to-back First Team All-American nods in 2020-21 and 2021-22.
He calls the Midwest home, but impressed on the national level in 2022. He took home runner-up finishes at the U.S. Amateur Championship and Intercollegiate Singles Championship.
This is, of course, not an exhaustive list; there are certainly quality candidates not mentioned in this piece. As seen with Tahvanainen last year, players can burst onto the Tour midseason and make a resounding case for the award.