HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Folgers pro Scott Suggs of Bryant, Ark., caught a two-day total of seven bass weighing 17 pounds, 1 ounce to win $1 million in the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Castrol on Lake Ouachita Sunday. Suggs topped his closest rival, Castrol pro Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla., by more than 4 pounds to become the first bass angler in history to pocket $1 million in a single tournament.
“I’ve been so close so many times, but I’ve never been able to close it,” said Suggs, who was trailed by a flotilla of more than 50 boats at the morning takeoff and cheered by an overflow crowd of more than 24,000 well-wishers Sunday afternoon at Summit Arena and the Hot Springs Convention Center. “It’s been a long road since the last time I won, but it’s great to do it here on my home water. Winning a million dollars hasn’t quite sunk in yet. The more I think about it, the better it gets. It’s just great to have my name up there with the champions like Darrel Robertson, Rick Clunn and the whole other list of them. It’s just great that my name will be up there as the first million dollar winner. It’s just unbelievable, that’s all I can say.”
Suggs targeted big fish Sunday using a 10-inch Berkley PowerWorm and a spinnerbait. His efforts yielded just two bass weighing 6 pounds, 1 ounce. When added to his catch of five bass weighing 11 pounds from Saturday, however, the fish proved to be enough to fend off his rivals and claim the world’s most lucrative prize in a bass-fishing tournament.
“I focused on suspending fish around submerged trees in 30 to 40 feet of water with the fish sitting in 20 to 25 feet near main-lake breaks,” Suggs said. “I was fishing an absolutely perfect tournament with five fish per day until the final day, but thankfully I held on.
“We recently built a new house and my kids wanted a swimming pool, but we didn’t get one. Now, I’m getting my little girls a swimming pool,” Sugg’s added.
Robertson caught a two-day total of six bass weighing 12-8 to claim second place and $100,000.
“I would have liked to have had first place by far, but for anyone to constantly catch fish this week, the good lord is looking out for them,” Robertson said. “I fished as hard as I could and worked my fish methodically. My key to success this week was that I never blew up. I kept my cool. I set my sights on at least three fish a day, and I did that.”
Rounding out the top 10 pros were Kellogg’s pro Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas, (four bass, 10-1, $75,000): Castrol pro Mike Surman of Boca Raton, Fla. (five bass, 9-14, $60,000); Gain Rookie of the Year Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C. (four bass, 9-12, $50,000); Pedigree pro Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala. (four bass, 9-8, $45,000); John Devere of Berea, Ky. (six bass, 9-2, $40,000); Castrol pro David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va. (six bass, 8-14, $35,000); Folgers pro Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C. (five bass, 8-11, $30,00) and Jack Wade of Knoxville, Tenn. (four bass, 7-9, $25,000).
Aside from being part of history Sunday, fishing fans were treated to news from FLW Outdoors chairman Irwin Jacobs that, like the pros, they will have a chance to win $1 million beginning next year – without ever picking up a rod and reel. Details on the opportunity will be announced in late October or early November.
“I stared fishing in 1989, and in three years I’ll be 60. I never dreamed I would see this,” Robertson said. “It would be great to win another one, but I think what’s going to help this sport more than the million dollar prize to the anglers is giving fans a chance to win the same amount. It is going to be great.”
The field of 81 professional anglers consisted of qualifiers from the 2007 Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the 2006 FLW Series, the 2007 Wal-Mart BFL All-American, 2007 TBF National Championship, 2007 Ranger Owners Championship Series and 2006 Stren Series Championship. Six of the final top 10 anglers qualified through the 2006 FLW Series and four qualified through the 2007 Wal-Mart FLW Tour.
Pete Bridges of Tallapoosa, Ga., won the Co-angler Division and $25,000 Saturday with four bass weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces followed by Dino Caporuscio of Coto de Caza, Calif., in second place with three bass weighing 5-14 worth $10,000.
“It’s just awesome,” said Bridges, who celebrated his 66th birthday Saturday. “I’m just so thrilled about it. I doubt very seriously at my age that I will be able to accomplish it again, but it’s in the history books now that I won the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup.”
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were Ken Murphy of Meridian, Miss. (three bass, 5-7, $9,000); Doug Caldwell of Kane, Penn. (three bass, 5-1, $8,000); David Hudson of Jasper, Ala. (three bass, 4-10, $7,000); Jason Hampson of Cartersville, Ga. (two bass, 3-13, $6,000); Kevin Koone of Greenbrier, Ark. (two bass, 3-11, $5,000); Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C. (one bass, 1-9, $4,000); Karyn Sanchez of Midlothian, Texas (one bass, 1-8, $3,500) and Bret Bell of O’Fallon, Mo. (zero bass, 0-0, $3,000).
Sanchez was the first female angler in the sport’s history to advance to the final round of the Forrest Wood Cup.
The full field competed in the opening round for 10 slots in Saturday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights were cleared for Saturday, and co-angler competition concluded. The top 10 pros continued competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from both days.
Pros and co-anglers were randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fished from the back deck against other co-anglers.
Coverage of the Forrest Wood Cup will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States Sept. 23 and Sept. 30 as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program. “FLW Outdoors” airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast in Canada on WFN (World Fishing Network) and to more than 429 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through Matchroom Sport, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network.
A record crowd of 61,976 fans attended the historic Forrest Wood Cup during its four-day stay Hot Springs.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail presented by Abu Garcia, Ranger Owners Tournament Championship Series, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Striper Series. These circuits offer combined purses of nearly $43 million through 241 events in 2007.
Wal-Mart and many of America’s largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as an FLW Outdoors sponsor in 1997 and today is the world’s leading supporter of tournament fishing. For more information about Wal-Mart, visit Walmart.com.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, browse FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.