Friday, October 9, 2009

Mohr, Voss and Graybeal Receive PBA Senior Honors

Ron Mohr of Eagle River, Alaska, the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Senior Tour’s only three-time winner in 2009, has been selected as PBA Senior Tour Player of the Year by a panel of veteran bowling writers and his fellow competitors.

Brian Voss of Alpharetta, GA, has been elected as the PBA Senior Tour’s 2009 Rookie of the Year and veteran Senior Tour competitor Larry Graybeal of Elizabethton, TN, is the winner of the second PBA Dick Weber Sportsmanship Award.

Mohr, a 53-year-old second-year Senior Tour member, won the PBA Jackson (MI) Senior Open and PBA Dayton (Ohio) Senior Open, kicking off the 2009 season with his first two titles in back-to-back weeks. He won his third title in the Senior Dick Weber Open in Lansing, MI, where he defeated four-time defending Senior Player of the Year Tom Baker, 232-175, in the title match.

In 12 Senior Tour events, Mohr cashed in all 12, advanced to match play 11 times and he had five top-five finishes. He was runner-up in the Senior Tour earnings race to Wayne Webb by only $250 with his $41,600 total, and he led the full-time touring seniors in average at 223.14.

“I don’t know if it’s a surprise to get the news, but it’s still a shock,” Mohr said. “You hope things will turn out this way, but you never know. After my first year, I realized I could be competitive, but it’s a major step to win a title and then to win more than once is surreal. To go on to win Player of the Year is beyond anything a guy living in Alaska could ever imagine.

“I think it would be easy to accept this, say it has been a great year, and move on,” he added. “But I’m looking for ways to get better. Tom Baker won this honor four years in a row. I’m going to try to get better if I have any hope of doing something like that. And with Walter Ray (Williams Jr.) coming out on the Senior Tour, even for a few events, we’ll all have our work cut out for us next year.”

Voss, who bowled in only six events, didn’t win a title, but he finished second in the Senior Dayton Open, second to Webb in the Senior U.S. Open, and tied for fifth in the USBC Senior Masters. Voss was granted a “Golden Umbrella” exemption to rejoin the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour in August, and missed the final five Senior Tour events.

During his limited action, he was the only player to out-average Mohr (223.99) and he earned $22,200 – eighth best among the seniors.

“It’s always nice to win something, to be recognized. I would have preferred to be Player of the Year, but it suggests I’m still competitive,” the 24-time Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour titlist said.

“My first Senior Tour event was a rude awakening (he failed to cash). I didn’t bowl practice. I had no idea what lanes were like. It turned out they were pretty easy, and I have all of the excuses in the world why I wasn’t ready. “But I adapted,” the 53-year-old Voss continued. “I finished second the next week in Dayton, and I did well in the majors. It was good competition and it was really nice to see some of my old friends.”

Voss, a PBA and USBC Hall of Famer, will be a full-time member of the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour for the 2009-10 season, so his participation in Senior Tour events is unknown. “We’ll see what my schedule is. I’ll bowl a few,” he said.

Graybeal, who turned 70 on Sept. 7, bowled in his 100th PBA Senior Tour event in the PBA Senior World Championship in Allen Park, MI, in August. The 26-year PBA member won his only PBA title – a senior regional event – in Gastonia, NC, in November 2006.

“I was kinda surprised, but I’m really honored to have an award with that man’s name (Dick Weber) on it,” Graybeal said. The former textile printing supervisor fought and beat colon cancer in 2001, which proved to be a turning point in his life.

“I decided after that I was going to do what I wanted to do with my life. I’m still at it, still trying to win,” he grinned. He acknowledged he’s a consistent Super Senior casher – the 60-and-older group who don’t cash in the regular prize list, “but that’s not what I’m shooting at. “I try to be a nice guy,” Graybeal continued. “It’s not always the easiest thing to do when you’re a competitor. I guess you’d call it losing gracefully.”

Graybeal’s selection by his peers was the perfect choice, according to PBA Senior Tour Tournament Director Corey Kistner and PBA Regional and Senior Tours Director John Weber, the son of the award’s namesake. “I’m really happy to see a guy like Larry win this award,” Kistner said. “He’s the epitome of what the sportsmanship award represents. He’s definitely deserving.”

“On behalf of the Weber family as well as the PBA, I’m really happy the players voted for someone as congenial as Larry Graybeal. All of the players look up to him. He’s just a pleasure to be around. I couldn’t be happier.”

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