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Local Pro Anglers competing in FLW Championship

Rhea County's Andy Morgan shows off a respectable fish taken Friday morning in the Forrest Wood Cup, FLW’s world championship of professional bass fishing on Lake Murray. (FLW Photo)

The Forrest Wood Cup, FLW’s world championship of professional bass fishing, began Friday morning on Lake Murray. The 3-day event will crown FLW’s top angler of 2017. The tournament will feature 53 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals, three from Rhea County, casting for the sport’s biggest award and $300,000 cash.

Dayton’s Andy Morgan ended the regular tournament season in 2nd place in the "FLW Angler of the Year" standings, 44 points behind Bryan Thrift. He and Rhea County's Michael Neal join Spring City’s Wesley Strader as part of the elite field gunning for the championship.

All 53 anglers compete the first two days. On the third day, only the top 10 anglers in the tournament standings will compete.

In Thursday morning's competition, FLW reports from the water said Neal had been assessed a 2-pound penalty for being in possession of six fish. Neal landed a keeper, went to the livewell and realized he already had six in the box. He did not put the additional keeper in the livewell so never took full possession of it. Therefore it did not count as a seventh keeper. He followed the FLW rules by immediately contacting Tournament Director Bill Taylor. Taylor instructed him to cull to a five-fish limit, but that he'd receive the penalty, per FLW tournament rules. He was unofficially in fifth place, but losing 2 pounds dropped him to seventh. Neal came up just short in last year’s championship on Wheeler Lake for a second place finish behind John Cox.

FLW Live online coverage kicks off each morning at 6:30 a.m. ET from the Forrest Wood Cup takeoff at Dreher Island State Park. Coverage will continue through 12:30 p.m., with hosts Travis Moran and Rob Newell commentating from a special on-site set at the Forrest Wood Cup Expo at Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. All weigh-ins will also be broadcast on FLW Live beginning at 5 p.m.

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