B.A.S.S .announces major partnership with Busch

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B.A.S.S. lands big sponsor: Busch to give future Anglers of the Year $100,000 prize

By Josh Bean/ Times Daily (Alabama) Assistant Sports Editor

July 25, 2002

BIRMINGHAM - Professional bass fishing got a lot richer Wednesday.

As part of a sponsorship agreement joining B.A.S.S. and Busch beer, the winner of the Angler of the Year will take home $100,000 beginning in 2003.

Davy Hite won the 2002 Angler of the Year award, which carries a $25,000 prize.

"Sorry, Davy, but timing is everything," Busch director of tactical brands Keith Levy said while making the announcement.

"How 'bout a six-pack," Hite deadpanned.

All jokes aside, Busch's partnership with B.A.S.S. is no laughing matter.

In addition to the Angler of the Year winning $100,000, the second- and third-place finishers will not win $20,000 and $15,000, respectively. The top 10 finishers in the final standings will win at least $5,000 - for a total payout of $200,000.

The addition of Busch as a sponsor further underscores the sport's popularity with corporate America, which blossomed last summer when ESPN bought B.A.S.S.

"I think this addition is really bigger than the money," said Muscle Shoals angler Tim Horton, who won $20,000 when he won Angler of the Year in 2000.

Busch will now also be the "Official Beer of B.A.S.S." and will be the presenting sponsor for the Bass Masters Classic, Citgo Bassmaster Tournament Trail, Citgo B.A.S.S. Federation Championship and weekly TV show in ESPN.

The deal also continues Busch's sponsorship of major athletic events, including the NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball, WNBA, and - most notably - NASCAR.

Angler Denny Braeur - the winner of the 1998 Bass Masters Classic who is already sponsored by Busch - predicted the beer's partnership with B.A.S.S. will be a boon for the sport.

"Brace yourself, it's going to be an exciting ride," he said.

Hot spot: Most of the 50 anglers competing in this year's Classic expect hot, sticky conditions on Lay Lake.

That means that success could hinge on how well an individual manages the conditions - handling the heat and dealing with those predictable afternoon thunderstorms.

"Heat is a big factor here," said Hardy Tulgestka, an amateur from Michigan who is competing in his first Classic. "You've got to keep a lot of fluids in you. If you get dehydrated, you're going to be pretty sick for two or three days. You don't want that to happen."

Summer heat is nothing new. After all, summer temperatures peak in the mid-90s in most parts of the country.

That said, anglers know that beating the heat could be the key to carrying home that $200,000 first prize.

The heat probably won't bother Chris Price, who routinely works 10-12 hours a day as a roofer.

"Fishing in the sun is like fishing in air conditioning compared to that roof," said Price, one of five amateurs to qualify for the Classic from the B.A.S.S. Federation.

Baby boom: Anticipation is already building for three of the Classic's 50 competitors.

The wives of three anglers are expecting a child - Muscle Shoals Tim Horton; Chris Price, of Church Hill, Md.; and Carl Maxfield of Summerville, S.C.

Horton and his wife, Melanie, already have a 2-year-old daughter, Lauren. The couple's second child is due on Dec. 26. Price and his wife are expecting their first child on Oct. 24.

Both said impending fatherhood is not a distraction this week.

"Gosh, dog, you know you have another mouth to feed, so to speak, but it's really not something I think about," Horton said.

Maxfield's child is due this weekend, although he still plans to compete. Doctors have reportedly predicted that the baby will not arrive until early next week.

Hometown pressure: Three Alabama anglers are competing this week - Centreville's Jamie Horton, Trussville's Randy Howell and Muscle Shoals angler Tim Horton.

Jamie Horton, an amateur who qualified for his first Classic through the B.A.S.S. Federation, is considered a favorite. He admits to fishing Lay Lake nearly 20 times over the last six years, giving him a slight home-lake advantage.

"A lot of people think I'm a favorite," he said. "The Lord has blessed me. I expect to do well."

Josh Bean can be reached at 740-5725 or josh.bean@timesdaily.com.
 


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