DETROIT — Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., claimed the Forrest Wood Open’s top award of $200,000 cash Saturday on Lake St. Clair with five bass weighing 18 pounds, 2 ounces.
He topped his nearest competitor, David Dudley of Manteo, N.C., by 1 pounds, 2 ounces in the final round to claim victory in the four-day, $1 million tournament presented by Kellogg’s.
“This was one of the most unbelievable days of fishing that I’ve ever had,” said Nixon, who is one of the sport’s all-time greats. “I caught three big fish early this morning then lost one and grabbed a soft plastic jerkbait and caught several more. I had over 17 pounds by 10:30.”
By winning the lucrative tournament, Nixon automatically qualifies for the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship presented by CITGO on Lake Champlain in Plattsburg, N.Y., Sept. 12-15. In the championship he will fish against 49 of the world’s top bass anglers for a top award of $250,000—the richest championship prize in competitive bass fishing.
Nixon advanced to the semifinal round of 10 competitors Thursday in first place with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 32 pounds, 13 ounces. He then qualified for the five-man final round in first place after catching five bass weighing 14 pounds, 2 ounces Friday.
Second place went to Dudley, who won $100,000 with five bass weighing 17 pounds. Jimmy Millsaps of Canton, Ga., took third place and $50,000 with five bass weighing 16 pounds, 15 ounces, while Mickey Bruce of Buford, Ga., finished fourth and collected $35,000 with five bass weighing 16 pounds, 3 ounces. Steve Daniel of Clewiston, Fla., finished fifth and earned $30,000 with five bass weighing 10 pounds, 12 ounces.
Millsaps won the Energizer “Keeps on Going” award for the greatest comeback during the event. He fought back from 36th place on opening day to qualify for the final round in fifth place.
Competition in the final regular season event of the $4.45 million 2001 Wal-Mart FLW Tour began Wednesday with 350 anglers from across the nation competing in two divisions, pro and co-angler. Kelly Greer of Green Forest, Ark., won a year’s supply of CITGO gasoline and $40,000 Friday in the Co-Angler Division with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 8 ounces.
Local favorite and Chevy Pro Staff angler Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., clinched the Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year title Thursday with a 28th place finish. As Angler of the Year, VanDam is recognized as the top professional bass angler in the world. His picture will be featured on special collectors edition Kellogg’sÒ cereal boxes, and he will receive a $25,000 bonus plus a Mercury-powered Ranger 518 VX bass boat for his accomplishment.
Wesley Burnett of Hot Springs, Ark., landed the Eagle Co-Angler of the Year title with an ninth place finish on Lake St. Clair. For his accomplishment, he will receive a Ranger R91 boat powered by Yamaha along with priority entry into the Pro Division of the 2002 Wal-Mart FLW Tour.