Svensson, Simonsen Are Contenders to Dethrone Belmonte as PBA Player of the Year

by Bill Vint, Professional Bowlers Association 0

Sep 4, 2016; Jesper Svensson during a magazine portrait shoot for the Bowler Journal International at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, MI. Credit: Tim Fuller
Sep 4, 2016; Jesper Svensson during a magazine portrait shoot for Bowler Journal International at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich. Credit: Tim Fuller

As the PBA Fall Swing unfolded inside Detroit’s historic Thunderbowl Lanes, PBA fans got a close-up view of how the multi-event tournament program would impact the 2016 PBA Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year races as the PBA Tour entered its home stretch.

When the Fall Swing got underway at Thunderbowl Lanes in suburban Detroit, Australia’s Jason Belmonte renewed his bid to win a fourth consecutive PBA Player of the Year award – a feat never before accomplished in PBA competition. But he was on the outside looking in as a pair of young two-handed players, influenced by his innovative technique – appeared ready to de-throne him.

To put the POY race into perspective, the PBA Fall Swing, the TV finals of which begin airing Sept. 21, featured four PBA Tour title events. In addition to the Fall Swing, there are three Xtra Frame PBA Tour events remaining on the 2016 calendar along with the PBA Team Challenge and the U.S. Open. Closing out the year will be the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VIII in Reno, Nov. 27-Dec. 11, which will include the PBA World Championship plus the Cheetah, Chameleon, Scorpion and Shark Championships.

Heading into Detroit, Sweden’s 21-year-old Jesper Svensson was not only the Tour’s only three-time winner in 2016 (including the FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions), but led the PBA in earnings ($111,93) and average (228.09 for 117 games). He was followed in earnings by 19-year-old Texan Anthony Simonsen, the only other multiple winner in 2016 (including the USBC Masters), with $99,150.

Belmonte had not yet won a title in 2016. He ranked second in average, scoring at a 226.16 pace, but came into Detroit 20th in earnings, a key stat among POY voters. Simonsen was 13th in average (220.98).

Prior to the Fall Swing, seven other players had won PBA Tour titles and there was plenty of room to shake up both the earnings and average standings, not to mention taking a shot at the PBA Player of the Year title. With three months of activity remaining in 2016, the Player of the Year race promises to be intense all the way to the end.

Also of interest if the 2016 Rookie of the Year race which is being dominated – for the first time in PBA history – by a pair of Canadians. Graham Fach of Guelph, Ontario, established himself as an early favorite when he won the Barbasol PBA Players Championship in February in the second PBA Tour event he ever entered. While Fach has limited his activity since then, Quebec City native Francois Lavoie, a former collegiate All-American at Wichita State University, has yet to win a PBA Tour title, but he has become a regular contender including qualifying No. 1 for the PBA Wolf Open finals, No. 4 for the Badger Open finals and he was in the hunt for Detroit Open finals.

PBA CHAMPIONS TO SHARE CBS SPORTS NETWORK TV BOOTH FOR FALL SWING TELECASTS

During each telecast of the PBA Fall Swing, PBA Tour champions will provide their insights about the various animal pattern events that compose the Fall Swing, along with other reflections about their experiences in PBA Tour competition, as guest analysts along with CBS Sports Network lead announcer Dave Ryan and veteran color analyst Randy Pedersen.

The players who will join the telecasts – not necessarily in the order of appearances – are 18-time PBA Tour titlist Chris Barnes, 2012 PBA World Barrett of England; three-time reigning PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte of Australia, nine-time PBA Fall/Summer Swing TV finalist Bill O’Neilland 2008 PBA Rookie of the Year Rhino Page.

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