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Bassmaster Memorial anglers prepare to battle for $250,000

5/7/2007

Editor's Note: For the first time, ESPN is providing same-day coverage of a non-championship BASS event. Tune into ESPN2 at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 21, to catch all of the action from the first Bassmaster Major, the Bassmaster Memorial, in Fort Worth, Texas.

CELEBRATION, Fla. — With the hodgepodge of benefits that come along with qualifying for the Bassmaster Majors, anglers have had a tough time picking their favorite. Along with same-day television coverage on ESPN2 for the first time at a regular season event, the Majors offer a $250,000 payday, two reasons why CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series anglers are anticipating the no-entry fee events.

"The Majors are going to be mind-blowing," said Alabama's Randy Howell, who qualified for the first upcoming Bassmaster Major by placing 29th in a three-year combined CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. "There should be a carnival-type atmosphere similar to the Classic."

The Elite 50 events held in 2004 and 2005 served as a pre-cursor to the new and improved Majors. Unanimously, the 56 anglers who are participating in the Bassmaster Memorial on May 18-21 in Fort Worth, Texas, on Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Worth, are ecstatic about the overhaul.

"The Majors offer a great format," Oklahoma Elite angler Kenyon Hill said. "Plus, the prize money is fantastic and I am all about the money."

Anglers will fish Eagle Mountain Lake on Days 1 and 2 and then switch over to a six-hole course on Lake Worth on Days 3 and 4. Anglers also will fish from their own wrapped boats on all four days of competition, offering unmatched exposure for their sponsors and individual brands. ESPN2 will provide same-day coverage of the event on Sunday, May 21, at 7 p.m. ET.

Going into the Pride of Augusta presented by Lowrance - the fifth Elite Series event of the season - only three anglers had cemented their status as Majors participants. 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champ Kevin VanDam, 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Aaron Martens and 2005 Toyota Rookie of the Year Dave Wolak qualified via their previous achievements.

After the Elite event on Clarks Hill Lake, a number of anglers ensured their Majors inclusion with a solid performance. Howell, for example, posted a fifth-place finish at Clarks Hill, putting him safely in the top 40 combined Angler of the Year rankings.

Also qualifying for the Majors are the top 10 anglers from the BASS all-time money list. Steve Kennedy, currently leading the Toyota Rookie of the Year race, qualifies as well. North Carolina angler Dustin Wilks qualifies under a previous announcement.

Qualifying under BASS' hardship policy is Kentucky angler Mark Menendez. Menendez incurred incapacitating injuries over the past year which prevented him from competing in regular-season, Elite-level events. Therefore, his rankings were recalculated and he finished in the top 40 Angler of the Year rankings.

A complete list of qualifying anglers is below.

"Only at BASS can you fish for $250,000 and not pay an entry fee," Missouri angler Mark Tucker said. "I am so pumped for the Majors and the Memorial waters suit my style of fishing."

Daily tournament weigh-ins begin at 3:30 p.m. CT, May 18-21. The final day's weigh-in will include same-day coverage on ESPN2, May 21 at 7 p.m. ET.

2006 Majors qualifiers

After Clarks Hill Lake, Ga. May 7, 2006

2005 Classic Champion: Kevin VanDam
2005 Angler of the Year: Aaron Martens
2005 Rookie of the Year: David Wolak
2006 Rookie of the Year Leader: Steve Kennedy

Top 10 All Time Money

Place Angler Name Winnings

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1. Denny Brauer $1,965,251.71

2. Rick Clunn $1,720,044.53

3. Gary Klein $1,376,474.97

4. Shaw Grigsby, Jr $1,317,105.23

5. Davy Hite $1,215,650.00

6. Zell Rowland $1,035,915.90

7. Michael Iaconelli $974,329.00

8. Takahiro Omori $968,593.00

9. Peter Thliveros $905,439.00

10. Alton Jones $893,479.17

Top 40 2004, 2005, 2006 Angler of the Year Combined Standings

Place Angler Name Total

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1. Greg Hackney 9

2. Skeet Reese 28

3. Tim Horton 54

4. Terry Scroggins 55

5. Kevin Wirth 56

6. Gerald Swindle 60

7. Edwin Evers 68

8. Mark Tucker 69

9. Kelly Jordon 77

10. Bernie Schultz 85

11. Jason Quinn 90

12. Dean Rojas 93

13. Marty Stone 94

14. Ishama Monroe 104

15. Jeff Reynolds 114

15. Lee Bailey 114

17. Scott Rook 117

18. Brent Chapman 127

19. Jimmy Mize 128

20. John Crews 129

21. Tommy Biffle 130

22. Mike McClelland 147

23. Mike Wurm 150

24. Brian Snowden 157

25. Kenyon Hill 160

26. Mark Tyler 161

27. Jeff Kriet 163

28. Matt Reed 172

29. Randy Howell 173

30. Chad Brauer 175

31. Paul Elias 179

32. Mike Reynolds 181

33. Guy Eaker 187

34. John Murray 193

35. Todd Faircloth 197

36. Charlie Hartley 205

37. Brooks Rogers 230

38. Yusuke Miyazaki 231

38. Morizo Shimizu 231

40. Stephen Browning 237

* Mark Menendez qualifies under BASS' hardship exemption granted because of an incapacitating illness.

* Dustin Wilks qualifies based on a previous announcement.

Local sponsors include the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau. For more information, visit http://www.FortWorth.com.

Sponsors of the Bassmaster Majors include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Advance Auto Parts and Theraseed®.