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RASH DECISION: Player of the Year Award Caps Rash’s Wild Ride

As seasons go, the 2011-12 Professional Bowlers Association Tour will probably be remembered as one of the most difficult yet satisfying of Sean Rash’s bowling career.

On the lanes, Rash dominated like few have, qualifying for a record five consecutive TV finals during the World Series of Bowling and finishing the season No.1 in both points and earnings. Yet prior to the final event of the season the 29-year-old had no hardware to show for his efforts.

That all changed when Rash defeated Ryan Ciminelli to win the season-ending PBA Tournament of Champions in April, Rash’s first PBA title since winning the USBC Masters in Milwaukee in 2007. Not only did Rash’s second major title put an exclamation point on his 2011-12 season, it also served as a springboard to the PBA’s Chris Schenkel Player of the Year award. Rash was announced as the winner during the PBA Summer Series at 10 Pin in Chicago, May 28. Interestingly, whereas winners since 2007 had been determined by points, the 2011-12 player of the year was chosen by vote among PBA Tour players and veteran members of the bowling media.

Rash, who received 29.04 percent of the votes, narrowly edged out Australian Jason Belmonte (26.61 percent) for the honor. Rash and Belmonte have had well-documented clashes both on and off the lanes over the past year. Dallas’ Mike Fagan received 18.32 percent, making the 2011-12 race the closest in years.

Rash was visibly emotional after PBA Tour Commissioner Tom Clark made the announcement during a live broadcast on the PBA’s Xtra Frame. “We all had great seasons,” said the Montgomery, Ill., resident. “I think winning the TOC put a stamp on it. “Jason and Mike and I have bowled together in probably 15 different countries during the past year, and I think we made each other better.”

Rash also credited his strong finish to patience and a relentless attitude. “It was a difficult year for me,” he said. “The struggle of making all those TV shows and not winning was frustrating. Everything seemed so close. But through patience, hard work, dedication and a great team behind me, everything worked out.”