Matt Sanders has been named PBA rookie fo the year.
Sanders, a 23-year-old left-hander and former two-time All-American with Marion University-Indiana, was the overwhelming choice over one of the strongest fields of rookies in recent PBA history.
He was the only rookie to win a PBA Tour title (in the Xtra Frame Billy Hardwick Memorial Open presented by Chris Hardwick at Billy Hardwick’s All Star Lanes in Memphis, Tenn., in June). Sanders qualified ninth for the match play elimination finals of the “throwback” plastic ball tournament, eventually defeating PBA50 Player of the Year Brian LeClair, 243-237, for the title.
He concluded his first season with a fifth-place finish in the PBA World Championship, losing a 10-7 sudden-death roll-off to Kyle Troup after they tied at 248-248 in the opening match of the World Championship finals.
“It’s an honor just to be in the conversation with the bowlers who compete on tour,” Sanders said. “I go into each tournament believing I can win. Sometimes, maybe I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best I can be. I feel that when I’m at my best I can compete with anyone. I just need to relax and do what I do best and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.
“I bowled in 12 tournaments last year and to win one and finish fifth in the World Championship, I’m pretty satisfied with that. I plan to bowl a full schedule in 2018. Now it’s up to me to build on a very satisfying 2017 season and see where that takes me.”
Among PBA rookies in 2017, he was the average (215.84) and earnings ($30,965) leader.