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10 Best Tour Pros That Haven’t Won the Cup

10 Best Tour Pros That Haven’t Won the Cup
Andy Morgan

Wins, championships, dollars earned and AOY titles are the accolades by which fans rate their favorite professional bass anglers and by which pundits frame the debate regarding who is the best Walmart FLW Tour pro of all time.

Which stat is most important? That depends who you ask. Dollars pay the bills and set up longevity. Wins earn headlines and attract sponsors. AOY titles reward consistency. Championships are different. Championships are never forgotten. Just one can solidify a career and change a life forever. At FLW, the championship is the Forrest Wood Cup, and the Cup is the ticket to bass fishing immortality. Because once you’re a Forrest Wood Cup champion, you’re always a Forrest Wood Cup champion.

So can you be the best Tour pro of all time without winning the Cup?

For the 10 anglers listed here, that’s a question to ponder in the coming days, as another Forrest Wood Cup goes down on Wheeler Lake Aug. 4-7. The list is FLW’s ranking of the 10 best active Walmart FLW Tour pros that have never won the Forrest Wood Cup, as voted on by FLW’s media team.

 

Isn't it about time for Jay Yelas to hoist the Cup? He's one of the best ever to have never won it.

10. Jay Yelas

Veteran pro Jay Yelas is one of two anglers to make this list but to fail to qualify for the 2016 Cup. No one believes that Yelas needs to win the Cup to cement his status among the legends of bass fishing. The two-time FLW Tour AOY and former Bassmaster Classic champ’s story has already been written. Still, it’d be wonderful to see him cap his career with FLW’s most coveted trophy.

 

Stetson Blaylock

9. Stetson Blaylock

A career doesn’t “come full circle” much better than it has for Stetson Blaylock. The Arkansas pro got started as a co-angler, made the transition to pro, won a tournament early on and has become one of the premier athletes in professional fishing. Blaylock has made six Cups in his career. Over the last five, he’s improved his finishing place each time, most recently with a 14th-place finish at Lake Ouachita in 2015. If that trend continues, we could see him hoisting the Cup trophy on Wheeler and surpassing the $1 million career earnings mark in the process.

 

Cody Meyer

8. Cody Meyer

In addition to Blaylock, Cody Meyer is the other angler on this list who is yet to surpass the $1 million career earnings mark. Meyer just needs a little more time to get there. The California pro has only been on Tour for seven seasons. In that time, he’s built a reputation as one of the most consistent anglers (he holds the record for consecutive Tour limits with 50) and for being an all-around good guy. Meyer really launched his career early on with a trio of consecutive top-10 finishes at the Cup from 2009-2011. That means he has good juju at the Cup. What he doesn’t have yet is a win – Cup or otherwise – with FLW. Winning the Cup would end the drought in a big way.

 

Miyu and Shin Fukae are one of the most beloved couples on Tour.

7. Shin Fukae

Among the list of FLW millionaires and former AOY winners without a Cup victory is Japanese transplant Shinichi Fukae. Considered one of the best finesse anglers of all time, Fukae’s strengths seem perfectly suited for the tough conditions usually encountered at the Cup, yet he’s only finished in the Cup’s top 10 once in 10 tries. Interestingly, Fukae’s career seems to be on a bit of an uptick. After failing to make a top 10 the entire 2013 and 2014 seasons, he put together three top-10 finishes in the last two years, including two in 2016. That momentum could be what he needs to get over the Cup hurdle at Wheeler.

 

Scott Canterbury

6. Scott Canterbury

You wouldn’t want to be one of the monkeys riding around on Scott Canterbury’s back this season. The Alabama pro finally earned his first Tour win back in April, and now the in-state favorite is hoping to shed the Cup monkey off his back at Wheeler Lake. Canterbury’s strides to win the Cup have been as painful as they’ve been exciting for fans to watch. He’s finished runner-up twice in the span of three seasons. The latest near-miss came by 1 ounce at Lake Murray in 2014, when Anthony Gagliardi narrowly won the Cup and FLW aired (repeatedly) the heartbreaking footage of Canterbury losing what would have been the winning fish on the final day.

 

Mark Rose

5. Mark Rose

Arkansan Mark Rose is in rare company with only a handful of other FLW pros with more than $2 million in FLW earnings. Still, he lacks both of the major FLW awards – AOY and Cup champion – that are prerequisites for joining the debate as the greatest ever. Though Rose has been to the Cup nine times and made the top 10 three times, this season’s Cup might be his best chance at winning the title. Consider that he’s won on Wheeler before, and there should be a deep bite. He also might have destiny in his favor. Rose built his career by dominating on the Tennessee River over a span of about seven years. How fitting would it be for him to win the Cup on the Tennessee too?

 

Clark Wendlandt

4. Clark Wendlandt

What about Clark Wendlandt and his recent return to the status of elite Tour pro? Not saying he was ever not elite, but Wendlandt admittedly went through a stage in his career when he was more focused on family matters than fishing. Now he’s fighting back to the dominant form that we saw from him in the late ’90s and the first decade of the 2000s, when he made the top 10 at the Cup six times, won three AOY titles and got his first three FLW Tour wins. In the last seven Tour events, Wendlandt has a win and a runner-up finish, with more great things seemingly on the way. Still no Cup though, and he’ll have to fight off a mob of hungry younger pros to get it done.

 

Bryan Thrift

3. Bryan Thrift

Everything about Bryan Thrift’s career is fast, particularly the way he fishes, and the way he’s racked up incredible stats in a very short period of time. Thrift has been on Tour for only a decade – about half the time as pros such as David Dudley, Clark Wendlandt and Andy Morgan – but in that time he’s earned $1.8 million, 46 top-10 finishes and eight wins. The top-10 stat is most impressive. With 128 FLW appearances, Thrift makes the top 10 on average about 35 percent of the time. He’s a top-10 machine at the Cup, too, with six top 10s in nine tries – but no wins. Close, but no silver cup.

 

Larry Nixon (7th, 57-14)

2. Larry Nixon

Larry Nixon, the General, holds our second spot on the list, but he might actually be the most accomplished angler who lacks a Cup win if you include his B.A.S.S. resume. Nixon won the Bassmaster Classic in 1983 and has more than $3 million in combined earnings between B.A.S.S. and FLW. With 15 Cup qualifications under his belt, Nixon won’t get a shot at getting off the list this year. He didn’t qualify for the Cup. That’s too bad for the guy who might actually want to win the Cup worse than anyone else in the sport. Probably Nixon sees his window closing. He is, after all, getting a little … up there in years. Who knows how many more Cups the 65-year-old will fish before he retires.

 

Andy Morgan

1. Andy Morgan

No surprises here. Andy Morgan is the unanimous No. 1 pick by all members of this list’s selection committee. Heck, even his fellow pros call Morgan the GOAT, or “Greatest of All Time.” There’s really no debating Morgan’s greatness, what with more than $2 million in earnings, three AOYs in a four-year span and 62 top-10 finishes. Still, Morgan has never won the Cup in 17 chances, while his all-time great brethren such as David Dudley and Scott Martin have. If he wins it before his career ends, Morgan just might end the debate and go down in history as the best of all time. Period.

 

Who’s No. 11?

The 10 pros that made the list are not the only ones to receive votes from FLW’s panel of voters. Wesley Strader narrowly missed out, and votes were also cast for Matt Arey, John Cox, Dan Morehead, JT Kenney, Mark Daniels Jr. and Tom Monsoor.

 

Tags: forrest-wood-cup  wheeler-lake  flw-staff  pre-tournament  2016-08-04-forrest-wood-cup 

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Day 3 of Practice with Scanlon

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