The Walmart FLW Tour visited Alabama’s Lake Guntersville for the first time in its 14-year history to kick off competition in 2009, and it was a tournament of firsts for sponsor-team competition as well. Team BP picked up its first win on record in Division I to start things off, and newly formed Team Tums crushed the competition in Division II.
While a familiar fishery in other FLW Outdoors circuits, Lake Guntersville is a fresh destination for the FLW Tour, and professional bass fishing’s finest made the most of stop No. 1 in mid-February. Several competitors broke the 25-pound mark with limits of fish on day one – one sack weighed nearly 30 pounds – and weights stayed relatively strong across all four days of the Chevy Open.
The Tour’s Feb. 12-15 residency at Guntersville in northern Alabama provided the conditions Team BP was looking for to lasso its first win since entering sponsor-team competition. The win was a commanding one as well, with BP more than 10 points ahead of Division I runner-up Team National Guard. Team Tums made a big splash of its debut, finishing the event a staggering 43 points ahead of second-place Team PTSI, last year’s champion of Division II.
Eighteen sponsor teams – separated into two divisions based on team size – will unofficially compete on the FLW Tour in 2009. Division I is packed with teams that have stood the test of time and competed at the highest level in years past. Division II hosts many familiar teams that have proven their mettle before along with some new names that will make them work to maintain such reputations, as evidenced by Tums’ victory its first time out.
Like in years past, sponsor teams are divided into two divisions: Division I, comprising teams of three or more professional anglers, and Division II, comprising teams of fewer than three pros. Keep tabs on your favorite teams’ progress as they compete this week, March 12-15, at the second stop of 2009: Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo.
Look for results from Table Rock by mid-April. Results from Lake Guntersville, as well as an explanation of team scoring, are detailed below:
Team BP turned up the heat at Guntersville, registering a 149.75-point win that was fueled by a strong showing from several team members. National Guard secured second place with 139.29 points, and right behind in third was Team Castrol with a strong start to the season at 137.40 points.
In the driver’s seat for BP was veteran David Walker, who picking up his 20th tour-level top-10 with an amazing sixth-place finish. Tracy Adams picked up his sixth Tour top-10 with a strong 16th-place finish, while J.T. Kenney and Ray Scheide also contributed considerably to BP’s win with 20th-and 25th-place finishes, respectively.
Team Tums chilled the competition in its division by posting a perfect 200-point win, announcing its presence as a new sponsor team with great authority. The closest competition was No. 2 PTSI with 157 points, and third went to Team Pringles with 149 points.
Known on the Tour as the Crankbait King, veteran pro David Fritts was the ace behind Tums’ big premiere. Fritts picked up his sixth FLW Outdoors win on Guntersville, including his fifth on Tour, a record. The veteran pro is now on a solid pace to qualify for his ninth Forrest Wood Cup, the season-ending FLW Tour championship.
Explanation of team scoring
Points in the 2009 sponsor-team race will be earned during the FLW Tour’s six qualifying events and monitored throughout the season. Standings are based on the average number of points earned by a team’s anglers as assigned in the tour’s Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year competition.
Sponsor teams competed in the most recent FLW Tour tournament, the Chevy Open at Lake Guntersville near Huntsville, Ala., and results from that event have been tallied:
Division I – Lake Guntersville (teams with three or more anglers)
1. BP – 149.75
2. National Guard – 139.29
3. Castrol – 137.40
4. Berkley – 129.75
5. Kellogg’s – 126.20
6. Land O’Lakes – 124.75
7. Chevy – 117.00
Division II – Lake Guntersville (teams with fewer than three anglers)
1. Tums – 200.00
2. PTSI – 157.00
3. Pringles – 149.00
4. Snickers-M&M’s – 147.00
5. Folgers – 129.00
6. Goodwill – 125.00
7. Walmart – 111.00
8. Iams – 109.00
9. Abu Garcia – 102.00
10. Febreeze – 93.50
11. Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee – 77.00
Other notable performances at Lake Guntersville among pro anglers on sponsored teams included Berkley standouts Sam Newby, the impressive runner-up at Guntersville, and a 23rd-place showing from Stetson Blaylock; the twin top-10 attack of Castrol’s David Dudley, third, and Mike Surman, ninth; a stellar fourth-place finish from Ramie Colson Jr. for National Guard; Ott Defoe contributing a respectable 18th-place finish to Land O’Lakes‘ total; and a solid 22nd-place finish from Luke Clausen for Chevy.