NATIONAL GUARD EXPANDS FLW OUTDOORS SPONSORSHIP WITH NEW WAL-MART FLW SERIES DIVISION, WAL-MART FLW TOUR OPEN
LAS VEGAS (July 20, 2006) – The National Guard has yet to complete its first full year of FLW Outdoors sponsorship, but the oldest branch of the U.S. military has already announced plans to expand its partnership in 2007 as title sponsor of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour's new National Guard Open and the new National Guard Western Division of the Wal-Mart FLW Series.
These new title roles come in addition to the National Guard's unprecedented support of more than 1,400 TBF (The Bass Federation) chapters and affiliated clubs nationwide in conjunction with FLW Outdoors. In addition to providing support for TBF youth and conservation programs, the National Guard fields a team of four professional anglers and serves as a platinum sponsor of all FLW Outdoors bass, walleye, redfish, kingfish and striped bass tournament circuits, which are comprised of 249 events offering historical purses exceeding $37.9 million in 2006. The National Guard is also title sponsor of the National Guard Junior World Championship for youths who qualify through TBF state programs. The inaugural Junior World Championship will be held July 31 in Gasden, Ala., in conjunction with this year's Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship.
Beginning in 2007, the National Guard will host the National Guard Open as part of the $9.5 million FLW Tour. This $1.5 million event, to be held April 26-29 on Lake Norman in Charlotte, N.C., offers an incredible $10,000 cash award through 100th place in the Pro Division. It also offers a top pro award of $200,000 and a top co-angler award of $35,000.
In 2007, the National Guard will also answer the call from Western anglers for big-money, televised events in California, Washington and Arizona with the introduction of a new division of the $10 million FLW Series. The new National Guard Western Division will be comprised of four tournaments, each with a $1 million purse and $10,000 cash awarded through 50th place and $3,850 cash awarded through 75th place in the Pro Division. Additionally, pros finishing 76th through 100th place in each tournament will receive a $100 Wal-Mart gift card. Pros will fish for a top award of $125,000 while co-anglers cast for as much as $25,000 in every tournament.
"Our mission at the National Guard is to make a difference in the communities we serve," said Col. Richard Guzzetta, chief of the Strength Maintenance Division with the Army National Guard. "We are proud and thrilled to share this same fundamental philosophy with FLW Outdoors, and we look forward to broadening our role in providing significant new opportunities for the nation's 50 million anglers and their families."
The National Guard Western Division of the FLW Series will begin competition Jan. 31-Feb. 3 on Lake Havasu in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., followed by a tournament on the California Delta in Bethel Island, Calif., March 14-17. The third tournament will be held on the Columbia River in Tri-Cities, Wash., Sept. 26-29 with the final qualifier taking place on Clear Lake in Kelseyville, Calif., Oct. 24-27. After these events are complete, the top 30 pros and co-anglers will be invited to a three-day cumulative weight fish-off, where the pros will fish head-to-head against the top 30 pros from the BP Eastern Division in an effort to advance to the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup for a shot at a $1 million payday – the sport's largest. At the fish-off, the No. 1 National Guard Western Division pro will face the No. 30 BP Eastern Division pro, etc. The winners of these match-ups will advance to the Forrest Wood Cup along with the top 30 co-anglers. The pro with the heaviest overall weight will also earn $25,000. The co-angler with the heaviest overall weight will earn $5,000. The dates and location for the fish-off will be announced in the coming months.
"The National Guard's support of FLW Outdoors, TBF and our sport in general is unprecedented," said FLW Outdoors Chairman Irwin L. Jacobs. "I continue to be humbled by the vast energy and enthusiasm that they pour into the sport at every level, and I look forward to a long and rewarding partnership with the National Guard that benefits anglers throughout our FLW Outdoors organization."
Every FLW Tour and FLW Series event is broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the "FLW Outdoors" program airing Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. Thanks to broadcasting agreements with WFN (World Fishing Network) and Matchroom Sport, "FLW Outdoors" is also broadcast internationally to more than 350 million households in such countries as Canada, Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoor-sports television show 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.
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, Stratos Owners' Tournament Trail, 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 exceeding $37.9 million through 249 events in 2006.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.
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 Wal-Mart.com.