First off, I'm not sure whether anyone has ever written a bowling article on here. So call me a pioneer and away we go.
After dominating the collegiate circuit during all four of his years at Saginaw Valley State, Bill O'Neill broke out of his shell in 2010. He captured his first title, first major, and finished tied for Bowler of the Year points, inevitably losing via tiebreaker.
This year, "The Real Deal", as he's been dubbed, has been living up to his title (both literally, and figuratively). He dominated the World Series of Bowling, walking away with a title and three top 10 finishes, and he currently stands atop the standings at the U.S. Open 2011. Not to mention he also leads the tour in events, cashes, match play appearances, championship round appearances, and most importantly, points.
Mika Koivuniemi, on the other hand, is a seasoned veteran with more PBA credentials than the young-gun O'Neill. A former Player of the Year (2004) and six-time titlist, "Major Mika" won the prestigious Tournament of Champions in late January while setting a grocery list of records and accomplishments in the process.
- The $250,000 first-place payout was the largest in PBA history.
- His 299-100 victory in the semifinals set the largest margin of victory in PBA history (199 pins).
- Had he struck, Mika would've been the only bowler to toss two televised 300's.
- Mika now needs a win in the PBA World Championship to complete the elusive "Grand Slam". Only one bowler has ever accomplished this feat (Mike Aulby).
Koivuniemi is without a doubt the hottest player on tour at the moment. In his last four events, three of which were majors, Mika finished sixth, fifth, first, and third, respectively. He also has the high average on tour for the season (O'Neill is second).
Debate what you want, but bowling is a sport. A dying sport, but a sport nonetheless. And to those that follow it, it can be action packed, exciting to follow, and more than entertaining to watch. Most people only know basics about the game: a perfect game is 300 and the definitions of "strike" and "spare".
This is to provide an in-depth look and insight on the sport. Hopefully, this attracts bowling fans to come out and cheer and/or creates new bowling fans!
So to pose the final question, "Who will it be?"
I say the U.S. Open will play a great factor in the outcome of this award.
Should O'Neill win (which I believe he will), he will become just the fourth PBA bowler to win Rookie of the Year (2005) honors and Player of the Year honors in their career. (Aulby, Chris Barnes, and Tommy Jones are the others).
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