Jason Belmonte Wins Fifth Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year Award
by Jerry Schneider | Wednesday, December 11, 1:29 PM
AUSTIN, Texas – Australia’s Jason Belmonte was the overwhelming choice as 2019 Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year for a fifth time, Professional Bowlers Association CEO Colie Edison and PBA Commissioner Tom Clark announced in a special FloBowling livestreaming event Wednesday from FloSports headquarters in Austin, Texas.
In addition, Mykel Holliman of Collierville, Tennessee, was recognized as 2019 Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year; Bowl 4 Life founder Chuck Gardner of Charlotte, North Carolina, was named recipient of the 2019 Tony Reyes PBA Community Service Award, and Sweden’s Martin Larsen became the first international player selected by his peers as winner of the Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award twice.
Belmonte, 36, not only had another dominant season to earn Player of the Year honors, but continued his assault on the PBA record book, winning the PBA Tournament of Champions for a record-tying third time and then winning the PBA World Championship to set the PBA record with 11 career major titles. He also became the first player to reach the championship finals in four majors in a single season for the second time, finishing second in the PBA Players Championship and fourth in the U.S. Open to equal a feat he first accomplished in 2013.
The Australian two-handed star was the only player to win four Go Bowling! PBA Tour titles in 2019, led the PBA Tour in earnings ($288,290) and competition points, and finished in the top five 12 times in the 18 tournaments he entered. In addition to his two majors, Belmonte also won the DHC PBA Japan Invitational and the PBA Chameleon Championship during PBA World Series of Bowling X to improve his PBA Tour career titles total to 22. Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Arizona, was a distant second in the voting.
In winning Player of the Year for a fifth time, Belmonte is alone in third place among the career POY award winners. Walter Ray Williams Jr. won the honor seven times and Earl Anthony was a six-time winner.
Holliman, a 27-year-old lefthander, reached the championship round in two events, including the USBC Masters where he lost in the title match to Butturff. His other championship round appearance was a fifth-place finish in the Cheetah Championship during PBA World Series of Bowling X. Holliman also led Go Bowling! PBA Tour rookies in competition points and earnings ($36,580), easily out-distancing Greg Young of Viera, Florida, in the ROY voting.
As Rookie of the Year, Holliman receives a $2,500 cash award from Gardner’s Bowl4Life Foundation and a $2,500 scholarship will be awarded by Bowl4Life to a youth bowler in Holliman’s name.
Gardner, 60, is a 36-year PBA member who actively competed in PBA Tour and PBA Regional events prior to joining Columbia Industries as both a Tour Staff Player and Tour Rep in 2001. In 2007, he joined Brunswick as Southeastern Product Specialist and Pro Staff Representative, a role he continues to serve along with a number of other industry-related activities.
He was selected as Tony Reyes PBA Community Service Award recipient, however, because he founded the Chuck Gardner Bowl4Life Foundation in 2013 to assist youth bowlers with scholarship funding. He actively raises funds to support the scholarships while absorbing 100 percent of the expenses associated with his fundraising efforts. He conducts scholarship tournaments, provides free lessons and much more. His goal for 2019 was to award $50,000 in scholarships; to date that total has exceeded $63,000.
Larsen, a 40-year-old 10-year PBA Tour veteran, has been one of Europe’s premier bowlers for years, and established himself as a world-class player in PBA Tour circles after making his debut in 2009. While he has yet to win a PBA Tour title, he has seven championship round appearances including a pair of runner-up finishes. Larsen was first selected as the Nagy Award recipient during the 2011-12 season. His 2019 schedule was limited after he was struck by a car and seriously injured prior to the start of the PBA Harry O’Neale Chesapeake Open in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in mid-August.
Other finalists in the Nagy voting were newly-elected PBA Hall of Famer Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, South Carolina; Canada’s Francoise Lavoie; Brad Miller of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and Kyle Sherman of O’Fallon, Missouri.
The PBA Player and Rookie of the Year awards are elected by veteran members of the bowling news media along with the PBA membership. The Reyes Award recipient is selected by a panel of PBA executives. The Nagy Award is voted upon by PBA Tour players who have bowled in at least 50 percent of the current year’s tournaments.
The four award winners will be recognized during the PBA Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday, Jan. 18, as part of the PBA Hall of Fame Classic tournament weekend.