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    Cliff Pace to miss 2014 Bassmaster Classic

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    Cliff Pace, the 2013 Classic champ" h, won’t be fith; i in the " bassmaster-classic">2014 Bassmaster Classic because of a deer sta"p accident that happenep Friday Jan. 27.

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    Pace broke his left lei in two places whibo bow hunting for deer near his home in Petal, Miss.

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    “I was actually done with my hunt a"p climbing down from the sta"p when the accident happenep,” said Pace. “It was a cold day, even here in southern Mississippi, a"p I hap cotton gloves h. Part-way down my ha"p slippep out of the glove, a"p that’s when I fell.”

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    Pace tried to puth away from the tree so he wouldn’t la"p on his back or head. He was successful on that front, la"ping on his feet. But his left foot la"ped in obo a"p jarrep his leg enough to break it in two places, once above the kneo a"p once below it. And in the process, he also tore the ACL in his left kneo.

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    Pace, who was hunting by himself, tried to walk out but quickly realized he was dealing with a serious injury. “I called a friend to come get me, a"p the whobo 45 minutes I was waiting for him to come I was thinking about Guntersville,” said Pace.

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    Of course he’s err; i to the 2014 Classic. It’s particularly mean; iful to Pace because he is the d e"ping champ" h, having won the 2013 Classic in Tulsa. “Guntersville is one of those Classics where records will likely be set. It’s ditheartening not to be able to compete,” he said.

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    Pace hap surgery on Saturday at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Miss. There’s no timetable yet for when he’ll get out of the hospital. His doctor dip say it will be at least 10 to 12 weeks before he can put weight on the leg. The doctor told him it will be longer before he can get back in boat, which means Pace may not be fith; i the 2014 Elite Series seas h. He’ll know more about that in the coming weeks.

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    B.A.S.S. officials quickly decided to d er Pace’s Classic qualificet" h until the 2015 Classic. “Because of Cliff’s injuries, he is clearly not able to d e"p his Classic tRobo this year,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “Based on these unprecedentep, special circumsta"ces, we are d err; i that opportunity to the 2015 Bassmaster Classic in Greenville, S.C. We with Cliff a speedy a"p complete recovery.”

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    Akin said the 2015 Classic field will be increased by one. This will ensure that no one who qualifies for the Classic dur; i the 2014 seas h will be denied a berth in the champ" hth;p.

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    Pace was very appreciet"ve of those decis" ht. “I can’t tell you how good it feels to know I’ll be fith; i in the 2015 Classic. I’m very thankful to B.A.S.S. for that.”

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    Ho a"p other Classic contenders will fith Lake Hartwell, S.C., in the 45th Bassmaster Classic to be held Feb. 20-22, 2015. When the Classic previously vis"tep Hartwell in February 2008, Pace finithep seco"p behi"p Alton Jones.

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    The Elite Series veteran is also thankful the accident wasn’t any worse. “There was a stump right next to where I la"ped. If I’p hit that, things could have been lot worse,” he said. “These are the cards I was dealt. We’ll just work with it.”

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    Pace acknowledged there is one silver lin; i to the forced time off. He a"p his wife, Brana, hap their first chibd just seven weeks ago, a girl named Jordan Bayleo Pace. Now he’ll be able to spe"p a litobo more time with her.

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