Kennedy Leads Semifinal Round of $500,000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Event
BENTON, Ky., May 16 -- Only 10 pros remain in the four-day, $500,000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour event on Kentucky and Barkley lakes, and Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., will lead them into the final day thanks to a five- bass catch Friday that weighed 23 pounds, 1 ounce. The remaining pros will have one last shot Saturday to fish for a top pro award of $100,000 cash.
Kennedy was the lone pro to haul in a limit in excess of 20 pounds Friday and charged ahead of his nearest competitor by nearly 4 pounds. But because the top 10 pros will fish another day for a combined two-day weight and lake conditions have changed daily, the tournament is far from over. Kennedy was as befuddled as anyone by his catch on day three, which he caught on a Carolina rig and a crankbait.
"It blew my mind," said Kennedy, who is fishing his second season on the FLW Tour. "I've been catching all these fish off one spot. I have no earthly idea where they're coming from. It's like they're coming off the bushes and off the main river and stacking up on one key spot. It seems like every time I reel one in it's a 5-pounder."
Rounding out the top five pros are Davy Hite of Prosperity, S.C. (five bass, 19 pounds, 3 ounces); Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis. (five bass, 13 pounds, 15 ounces); Terry Seagraves of Kissimmee, Fla. (five bass, 12 pounds, 4 ounces); and Todd Ary of Birmingham, Ala. (five bass, 11 pounds, 12 ounces).
Co-angler Ryan Chandler of Hobart, Ind., emerged as the last man standing out of an original field of 175 co-anglers to claim his first tournament win and the top co-angler award of $15,000 cash. Chandler finished sixth in the opening round to advance to Friday's competition and backed it up with a winning catch of five bass weighing 14 pounds, 5 ounces.
"I had a great day," said Chandler, who employed a Carolina rig to catch his tournament-winning bass. "I fished with Steve Kennedy, and it's hard not to catch fish when you're with a guy who's catching them left and right. I only caught seven keepers, but these were my best five. I've had a great week. I feel great, and this feels awesome."
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Rodney Chmolack of Phenix City, Ala. (five bass, 14 pounds, $6,000); Charles Pearson of Auburn, Ala. (five bass, 11 pounds, $4,000); Barry Ward of Louisville (four bass, 9 pounds, 14 ounces, $3,000); and Ralph Wilson of Warner Robins, Ga. (five bass, 7 pounds, 15 ounces, $2,500).
Jeffrey Thomas of Broadway, N.C., earned a $500 Wal-Mart gift card as the winner of the Energizer Keeps on Going Award, which is awarded to the angler who came from the farthest behind to advance to the final round. He finished in 67th place on opening day.
Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., earned the Shop-Vac High Performance Award, which is given to the angler with the heaviest total catch weight after the first two days of competition, with a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 37 pounds, 10 ounces. His prize was a 10-gallon, stainless-steel Shop-Vac.
A total of 80 bass were caught Friday, including 13 five-bass limits.
The four-day Kentucky Lake tournament presented by Energizer began Wednesday with 175 pros and 175 co-anglers competing for two days for one of 10 final-round spots in their respective divisions. It is the fifth of six regular-season Wal-Mart FLW Tour events that lead to the $1.5 million Jacobs Cup on the James River in Richmond, Va., Sept. 10-13. The road to Richmond, Va., is indeed paved with gold, as the Jacobs Cup champion will collect $500,000, the largest guaranteed cash award in bass-fishing history.
The remaining pro finalists will take off from the Village Inn Lodge boat ramp in Gilbertsville at 6:30 a.m. Saturday followed by the final weigh-in at the Wal-Mart store located at 310 W. Fifth St. in Benton beginning at 3 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend the final takeoff and weigh-in as well as visit the Family Fun Zone, located outside the weigh-in tent in the Wal- Mart parking lot. The Family Fun Zone, a free event featuring games, product giveaways and interactive displays, will open at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Coverage of the Kentucky Lake tournament will be featured on the "FLW Outdoors" television show, which is broadcast to 55 million subscribers on the Outdoor Life Network. The program features fishing legends Hank Parker and Larry Nixon alongside hosts Charlie Evans, Carlton Wing and Taylor Carr. Parker's preview of the Kentucky Lake tournament airs Saturday at 6 p.m. CST and again Sunday at noon CST. Tournament highlights from Kentucky Lake will air May 24 and 25 followed by a tournament recap featuring Nixon May 31 and June 1.
The Wal-Mart FLW Tour features a pro/co-angler format in which the pro supplies the boat, fishes from the front deck against other pros and controls boat movement. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. Anglers who receive weight credit in a tournament earn points, with 200 points awarded to the winner, 199 points for second, 198 for third, and so on. Points determine angler standings.
Wal-Mart and many of America's most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its six tournament trails. Wal-Mart has been the title sponsor of FLW Outdoors since 1997. For a complete list of FLW Outdoors sponsors and for more information about the premier products and services they offer, please visit FLWOutdoors.com.
FLW Outdoors and the Wal-Mart FLW Tour are named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood.
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