Wendlandt, fishing from the EverStart boat in the final round, survived two earlier rounds of competition and 165 other anglers enroute to the Wal-Mart FLW Tour victory. He landed a five bass limit, weighing 13 pounds, 12 ounces in the final round of competition to outdistance the four other anglers competing in the final round of the professional division to clinch the title.
"I've been so close to winning a big event so many times before; this is the best one to win," said Wendlandt.Wendlant won the tournament using a Gambler II, 4 inch tube jig, designed by Guido Hibdon, who fell just short of the win.
Fishing from the US Bank-VISA boat, Bernie Schultz of Gainesville, Florida, took second place with a championship round, five bass catch weighing 12 pounds, 15 ounces, good for $50,000. Rounding out the top five in the Wal-Mart FLW Tour's professional division were: (3) Guido Hibdon of Gravois Mills, MO, (Coleman boat), five bass, 12-14, $30,000; (4) Carl Svebek III of Sam Rayburn, TX, (Land O' Lakes boat),five bass, 10-10, $25,000; and (5) Rob Kilby of Hot Springs, AR, (CITGO boat).
The win gives Wendlandt an automatic berth in the year-end Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship, presented by CITGO, September 22-25, 1999, in Wagoner, Oklahoma, where the winner will receive $250,000, the largest first place cash prize in sport fishing.
David Walker of Cannon, Kentucky, continues to lead in the Land O' Lakes Angler-of-the-Year points race after four events with 245 points. Points are awarded to anglers after the first two days of FLW Tour competition based on ranking at that time. Bernie Schultz of Gainesville, Florida, is in second place with 209 points, while Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, is following in third place with 196 points. The Land O' Lakes Angler-of-the-Year will be featured on a special edition box of Wheaties later in the year.
The highest-finishing Ranger boat owner, from each division, in the tournament qualify to enter the $3.5 million Ranger M1 Millennium tournament, the richest bass event in history, with a $1 million first-place cash prize at stake. The Ranger owner who catches the largest bass in each division over the course of the season will also qualify for the Ranger Millennium tournament.
Chris Rand of Davie, Florida, continued his mastery over Beaver Lake by capturing his second win in the co-angler division in as many years. Rand dominated the competition, which concluded Friday, with a 5 bass catch totaling 8 pounds, 1 ounce to collect the $20,000 first place check.
Carl Maxfield of Summerville, South Carolina, landed a 6 pound, 5 ounce bass to earn big bass honors for the event. He received $1,000 from Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola will award $5,000 to the angler landing the biggest bass during the 1999 tour. Jim Moynagh of Carver, Minnesota is currently leading the year-long contest with a 10 pound, 4 ounce bass.
The fourth year Wal-Mart FLW Tour is the most lucrative bass fishing series in the history of the sport. Highlights of the 1999 tour include: four $471,500 qualifying tournaments, each with a $100,000 first prize; the $641,000 Wal-Mart Open featuring a $150,000 first place prize; and competitive angling's richest tournament, the $1 million Forrest Wood Open, June 23-26, in Detroit, Michigan.
The Wal-Mart FLW Tour is televised on ESPN and ESPN 2. The Wal-Mart Open tournament is scheduled to air on ESPN, May 8, 1999, at 2:00 p.m. EDT.
All tournaments operated by Operation Bass are catch and release events. Uniroyal will donate $25,000 to the Children's Miracle Network at the end of the season if the Wal-Mart FLW Tour maintains a 98 percent live release rate. After four events, the Wal-Mart FLW Tour's live release rate is over 99 percent.
Sponsors of the 1999 Wal-Mart FLW Tour include: Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Land O'Lakes, CITGO Petroleum Products, Chevy Trucks, Uniroyal Tires, Fujifilm, EverStart Batteries, Eveready Flashlights, Black and Decker, Coleman Company, Ranger Boats, Mitchell Rods and Reels, Spiderwire, Evinrude Outboard Motors, Evinrude Electric Trolling Motors, Eagle Electronics, Timex Expedition, Wrangler, Chex Mix, Hamburger Helper, US Bank-VISA, and Wheaties. The Beaver Lake event of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour was hosted by the Bentonville Advertising and Promotion Commission.