SEATTLE – Finland’s Mika Koivuniemi, who won the richest first prize in PBA history and became the first player ever to reach the television finals in all four PBA major championships in a single season, has been selected as 2010-11 Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year.
Koivuniemi, who won the $250,000 first prize in the $1 million PBA Tournament of Champions, also finished second in the U.S. Open, third in the Bayer USBC Masters and sixth in the PBA World Championship on his way to winning the PBA Tour earnings title with $330,040 – the third-highest total in PBA Tour history. The 44-year-old right-hander, who also won Player of the Year honors for 2003-04, was the Tour’s average leader with a 222.50 average for 292 games bowled.
The PBA also announced Scott Norton of Costa Mesa, Calif., is 2011 Harry Golden Rookie of the Year and Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, N.Y., has won the Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award for the second time.
Koivuniemi, who lives in Hartland, Mich., and Venezuela’s Amleto Monacelli (1989 and 1990) are the only international players who have won PBA Player of the Year honors. Koivuniemi received 334 votes from his peers, easily out-distancing runner-up Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas (63) and Bill O’Neill of Southampton, Pa. (61).
“It’s really a great honor,” Koivuniemi said. “There are only 10 players who had won Player of the Year more than once, and to be the 11th member of that group is really special.
“It was an almost perfect season for me,” he added. “Qualifying for TV for all four majors is a huge deal. No one had ever done that before, and to win the Tournament of Champions? That’s the one everyone wanted.”
Norton, a practicing California attorney, won his first PBA Tour title in the Pepsi Chameleon Championship. He was the only rookie to win a title during the 2010-11 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour season. Norton received 445 votes; no other player received more than 15.
Jurek, who also won the Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award in 2006, also was an overwhelming choice. His most visible act of sportsmanship came during the title match of the Bayer USBC Masters where he was top qualifier, and was on the verge of losing to first-time champion Tom Hess of Urbandale, Iowa. Jurek approached Hess, who had broken down in tears under the emotion of his victory, and helped him calm down enough to finish the match.
About the PBA
The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) is an organization of more than 3,800 of the best bowlers from 13 countries who compete in Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour, Regional and Senior Tour events. Nearly one million ESPN viewers watch PBA Tour on Sundays during the tour season and thousands watch PBA activities online by using PBA’s video streaming service, Xtra Frame. PBA sponsors include Bayer, Brunswick, Budweiser, GEICO, Golden Corral, Go RVing, Lumber Liquidators, One A Day Men’s 50+ Multivitamin, Pepsi-Cola, Storm Products and the United States Bowling Congress, among others. For more information, log on to www.pba.com.