Edges Zach Weidman, Anthony Neuer for the honor
New York, N.Y.—Matthew Russo, whose victory in the PBA Jonesboro Open made him the only rookie to win a 2021 Guaranteed Rate PBA Tour title, was named the 2021 Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year after receiving the majority of votes from PBA membership and veteran bowling writers.
“I’ve been anxiously awaiting the news the last two or three weeks,” said Russo. “Am I going to win? What could I have done better if I don’t win? It was one of the best phone calls ever when (PBA Tour commissioner) Tom Clark called to tell me.”
Russo, who along with his title also cashed more times than any other rookie, received 36% of the vote. Zach Weidman, who led rookies in earnings and points with two top-10 finishes in majors, came in second at 29%. Anthony Neuer, whose third-place finish in the U.S. Open included a 7-10 split conversion, was third with 19% of the vote.
Pursuing the Rookie of the Year Award was on Russo’s mind all season.
“I had a feeling going into the season who the top rookies would be,” said Russo, noting that several, including Weidman, Wesley Low Jr. and Benjy Martinez, made it to the regional finals telecasts in the season-opening PBA Players Championship.
“I had a chance to make the Players Championship show but I didn’t,” Russo continued. “I knew I was already behind, but I told myself to build on it event to event. My goal was to make a show and have a chance to win. I felt like I was close when I made the Chameleon cut. I lost to Butturff in match play but I felt like I was doing the right things and improving every week.”
In early August, Russo earned the No. 2 seed for the stepladder finals in the PBA Jonesboro Open, getting a win back against Butturff in the semifinal match before defeating 2019 PBA Rookie of the Year Mykel Holliman for the title.
“Everything changed after that,” said Russo. “It solidified that I can be out here and I can win. Ever since I was a kid, this was something I wanted to accomplish. I couldn’t be more grateful.”
The PBA Rookie of the Year Award is named after legendary PBA Tour tournament director Harry “Goose” Golden, who was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1983.
Previous Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year Award Winners
2020 – not awarded due to the pandemic-interrupted season (2020 rookies retained eligibility through 2021)
2019 – Mykel Holliman
2018 – Kamron Doyle
2017 – Matt Sanders
2016 – François Lavoie
2015 – Jesper Svensson
2014 – Marshall Kent
2013 – EJ Tackett
2012 – Josh Blanchard
2011 – Scott Norton
Find a list of all Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year Award winners dating back to 1964 here: https://www.pba.com/player-resources/scholarships-and-awards/rookie-of-the-year
About the PBA
The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) is the world’s preeminent organization dedicated to the sport of bowling and its professional competition, with thousands of members and millions of fans throughout the world. The PBA plays host to bowling’s biggest tournaments from the PBA Tour, PBA Regional Tour, and PBA50 Tour. In 2020, the PBA launched PBA Jr., a club for elite youth bowlers under the age of 17 and the PBA Pinsiders, a membership for fans of the sport. For more information, please visit PBA.com.