Clark Wendlandt, the 7th-ranked angler in the world, will not fish the BASSMASTER Tour next year. He is the highest-ranked two-tour angler to ask B.A.S.S. to return his deposits, and is the highest-profile casualty of the new "no patch, no points" rule implemented by B.A.S.S.

Wendlandt's withdrawal is motivated by two factors. One is that fact that Tuesday was the deadline for asking that entry fees be returned, even though the Tour rules aren't final yet. But the biggest factor is that Wendlandt's major sponsor is Kellogg's.

"The reason I'm doing it is because of Kellogg's," he said. "It's nothing that FLW said to do and Kellogg's didn't say anything to me about it. Neither ever said a word to me about it. It's nothing more than the fact that with (B.A.S.S.'s) current sponsor situation, that alcohol (Busch) sponsorship with a sticker on the boat and the patch, that's just not going to work for Kellogg's.

"It was totally a personal decision. I just decided that that's the way I needed to handle it.

"This doesn't mean I'm judging the alcohol part of it at all," he said. "B.A.S.S. is trying to get corporate sponsors to make the sport bigger and I understand that. But if they make me put a Busch patch next to Kellogg's -- to me, Kellogg's is a wholesome company and they market a lot to kids, so its seems like a little bit of a mixed message.

"I just felt like if I was Kellogg's, I would not want a Busch beer sticker next to Kellogg's. They're my biggest sponsor, and I have to be the most loyal to them."

Sequence of Events

Wendlandt said that after he received the package from B.A.S.S. which contained the "no patch, no points" rule, he "pretty much decided" he would quit the BASSMASTER Tour "unless that rule changed." But he wanted to wait until the meeting B.A.S.S. had with its Athletes Advisory Council before he decided.

"I didn't want to (not fish the Tour) unless I had to," he said. "And I had to decide (Tuesday) to get my money back -- and the (patch requirement) didn't change."

Wrestled With Career Question

In a tour vs. tour comparison, ESPN/B.A.S.S. has the lead in the media and "premier event" categories while FLW Outdoors holds the edge in sponsorship and payouts. So it's tough to tell right now whether there's a significant advantage or disadvantage in fishing just one tour or the other.

Asked whether he thinks his career will be hurt by his decision, Wendlandt said: "I really wrestled with that. I just have to hope not.

"My career isn't compromised through my failure to achieve things in B.A.S.S. -- I can't win the Classic because I'm not fishing it, for example -- but no one really knows what the future holds. Two years from now I might feel differently. But right now, I feel this is the right thing to do because of Kellogg's.

"I hope B.A.S.S. continues to grow, and I feel that having both (FLW and B.A.S.S.) makes pro fishing more healthy. I just feel like this is where I have to go right now."

He added: "If I didn't have a conflict and the Busch deal went away to where it wasn't so obvious, or Kellogg's came out on their own and said they didn't mind (about the Busch patch), then I would fish B.A.S.S. I think have one provisional slot to get back in, but if not I'll just qualify."


> Wendlandt also would like to see no conflicts between the tour schedules. "When we got to Beaver, I was going to choose (FLW) anyway," he said. Beaver Lake is the site of the FLW Tour's Wal-Mart Open, which has a bigger payout than other FLW Tour events, and Wendlandt has its number. In the 4 years FLW has gone to the lake, he has finished 4th, 1st, 10th and 1st.

> Fishing two tours and leaving his wife and two daughters behind was not a factor in his decision. "My family travels with me," he said. "I actually was looking forward to fishing both tours. I may pick up some EverStarts and find some extra tournaments to fish, and might work a few more promotions."

> The expense of fishing both tours also was not an issue for Wendlandt.

> Re: the NASCAR similarity (Kellogg's sponsors a NASCAR Winston Cup car), he said: "I see a little bit of a parallel there, but in NASCAR I think that Kellogg's came into that situation wanting to be a sponsor. There might be a Bud or Busch sticker somewhere down on the bottom (of the car), but in my opinion those little bitty stickers down at the bottom are lost. And when the only two things on a boat are Kellogg's and Busch, to me those two things don't go together." He noted that "NASCAR is pretty much the only game in town," which is not the case in pro fishing. "In my situation, Kellogg's being with Wal-Mart -- there's no alcohol in that circuit anywhere and it just wasn't going to work."

> Wendlandt's world ranking will not be directly affected by his decision to fish only one tour. Fishing one or two tours equates to fishing fewer or more tournaments. In other words, next year Wendlandt will have fewer chances to perform well (or badly) and thus fewer chances to move up or down in the rankings vs. other anglers. Mark Davis, No. 2 in the world, and Tim Horton, No. 10 in the world, are two examples of pros who have fished one tour and are still ranked high.

On Monday will look at how the patch requirement is affecting other pros supported by FLW sponsors.

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