Belmonte has the world at his feet

TENPIN BOWLING

HOW does it feel to be crowed the best tenpin bowler in the world?

Just ask Jason Belmonte, who was crowned the 2012-13 Professional Bowlers Association Player of the Year on Saturday morning (AEDT).

“Feels bloody amazing,” Belmonte said of the win.

“Like a life of sacrifices leaving Australia paying off in one shiny award.”

The 30-year-old was presented with the award at the Thunderbowl Lanes in Michigan where the PBA’s Tournament of Championships is being held.

The award this season had 14 nominees and was voted on by the professional bowlers.

Belmonte received 42 per cent of the vote to edge out 2011-12 winner Sean Rash and PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber.

“This is as big as it gets,” Belmonte explained.

“It declares that I am the best player in the world. The world! Doesn’t even sound real, but it is.”

The Orange product had great success on the lanes during the 2012-13 season.

He took out the USBC Masters, his first major title, as well as finishing runner-up in the 2012 PBA World Championship, the US Open and the 2013 PBA Tournament of Champions.

On his way to taking out the major gong on Saturday, Belmonte also won the George Young High Average Award, scoring at a 228.81 pace over 422 games, and the Harry Smith Point Leader Award with 238,903 points.

Belmonte finished third in the earnings rankings with $US186,465, behind Sean Rash ($US248,317) and Mika Koivuniemi ($US227,851).

Belmonte was the third non-US player to win the Player of the Year title, joining Venezuela’s Amleto Monacelli and Finland’s Koivuniemi.

He was also the first two-handed player to win the major award.

Belmonte knew he was a chance to take out the award thanks to an unforgettable PBA season.

“History-making is a good way to describe it,” Belmonte said of his season.

“I won my first major, led the points and averages. It was my best year by far. In fact, it was probably better than if you put all my other seasons together.”

When the announcement was made on Facebook, there were some who said two-handed bowlers shouldn’t be eligible to win the award.

What does Belmonte say to these people?

“I say thank you,” he said.

“It’s these people that have fuelled my desire to prove them all wrong. The more I hear it, the more it drives me to succeed. I respect their opinions, I also thank them for it.”

The Tournament of Champions was in full swing yesterday and Belmonte was in award-winning form.

After the first 10 qualifying games Belmonte was leading the field with his 2536 total, six pins ahead of America’s Chris Loschetter (2530).

He said he felt no extra pressure to win the TOC after he received such a prestigious award on Saturday.

“I have won an award that I never thought was possible for a kid from Orange,” he said.

“My focus is to win the TOC, but not because of the award I won, but because my personality doesn’t accept mediocrity on the lanes.

“I will attack this event like I do every time I put my shoes on.”

The TOC will continue today with another five qualifying games before the top 24 players qualify for 24 round robin match play games.

After this, the top five players will move on to the televised stepladder final.

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