"Every emotion you could possibly imagine went through my head. [I] tried to fight back tears, I mean, because this is a dream," he said. "I mean to hold that trophy ... it's a dream come true."
He received $50,000 in prize money and two years of guaranteed qualifying on the pro tour, meaning he is assured of a paycheck each week he bowls -- a deal that worked out for both Smallwood and his wife.
"For him to be an assembly worker and fall back on a talent that has been there and to work hard and have another door open for us -- it's wonderful," she said.
"I possibly could not have written a better story for myself. It's been literally a dream come true the whole way through," Smallwood said.
For a one-time unemployed autoworker, a striking success.
ABC News' Jesus Ayala contributed to this story.