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5/20/2011 12:00:00 PM

The MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour officially kicked off its 20th Season today as riders from around the world gathered at Dallas Landing Park in the greater Atlanta area of Acworth, Ga. for the first contest of the five-city Pro Tour circuit. The Acworth stop, which continues through Saturday, May 21, opened with qualifying rounds for the Pro Men's division.

A total of 30 pro riders competed in six heats of five today, with only the top four in each group advancing on to tomorrow's Round of 40. Among the 24 qualifiers, who will be joined tomorrow by the top-16 seeded riders, is MasterCraft Rookie Pro - Steel Lafferty.

Lafferty, 18, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. won his qualifying heat today during his Pro Tour debut.

"There were butterflies today, for sure," Lafferty commented on his debut. "It was my first Pro Tour stop, plus I had big guns, like JD [Webb] in my heat." Despite the "butterflies", the rookie showed a veteran-like performance today, sticking tricks like a Toeside Backside 540 and Whirlybird 540 in his pro debut run.

Lafferty first made a name for himself on the 2010 Jr. Pro Tour, finishing third overall. Ironically, the rookie faced his Jr. Pro Tour victor, Nick Galotifore, today in the same qualifying heat, with Lafferty coming out on top this time.

"It was pretty ironic that we were in the same heat together today," said Lafferty. "We battled it out all season long last year, with Nick always coming out ahead. But today was the start of a new season and it was my turn to come out on top."

Lafferty will continue the contest tomorrow during the Pro Men's division Round of 40, which is scheduled start at 11:30 a.m.

Friday's festivities are free and open to the public, with the Jr. Pro Men's division starting at 8 a.m. and the Pro Women's division following them at 10 a.m.

The MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour, presented by Rockstar Energy Drink will wrap up in Acworth on Saturday, May 21, with the ticketed event beginning at 10:30 a.m. and ending at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the gate: $13 (adult); $5 (ages 6-12); free (ages 5 and under); or $7 (adult) if purchased online.

May 19 Results:

Pro Men

Qualifying Round - Heat #1

1 Nick Jones USA 73.33

2 Tony Carroll USA 68.33

3 Shane Bonifay USA 63.33

4 Julian Cohen USA 51.67

5 Anthony Hollick USA 38.33

Pro Men

Qualifying Round - Heat #2

1 Aaron Rathy CAN 80.00

2 Padiwat Jaemjan THA 75.00

3 Corey Bradley USA 68.33

4 Erik Ruck USA 60.00

5 Stephen Pierce USA 50.00

Pro Men

Qualifying Round - Heat #3

1 Steel Lafferty USA 75.00

2 JD Webb USA 70.00

3 Sam Thomson AUS 56.67

4 Terry Baily USA 38.33

5 Nick Galotifore USA 30.00

Pro Men

Qualifying Round - Heat #4

1 Phillip Aslinger USA 75.00

2 Jefferson Langley USA 66.67

3 Scott Stweart USA 60.00

4 Jeff House USA 46.67

5 Zane Schwenk USA 40.00

Pro Men

Qualifying Round - Heat #5

1 Jason Bannatyne CAN 63.33

2 JB O' Neill USA 56.67

3 Danny Burnstein USA 55.00

4 Joey Bradley USA 55.00

5 Ben Albright USA 43.33

Pro Men

Qualifying Round - Heat #6

1 Kirby Liesmann USA 68.33

2 AJ Racinelli USA 63.33

3 Danny Thollander USA 58.33

4 Dante Digangi USA 46.67

5 Vinny Knapp USA 36.67

For more information please visit the MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour on TransWorld Wakeboarding.

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