- Ken Duke
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In golf tournaments, they call Saturday "moving day." It's the same at the Bassmaster Classic. Saturday (Day 2 of competition) is when the field of 50 gets trimmed to 25, so most of the field has to make a "move."
The anglers in the top half are fighting to stay there. If they're near the lead, they need to maintain. If they're closer to the middle, it's time to step it up and get into the hunt. There's a big difference in prize money between first and second place and a bigger difference between and winning and not quite winning.
Moving day is unforgiving. One mistake takes you right out of the tournament.
In 40 previous Classics, the angler who takes the lead on Day 2 wins 57.5 percent of the time. Anglers in the top two positions take home the trophy 77.5 percent of the time, and those in the top five win 95 percent of the time.
Only twice has an angler from farther back than fifth gone on to win. It's a tough row to hoe, as they say. The problem is not just the weight deficit, but also the sheer number of anglers between you and the lead. A couple of them might stumble, but all of them? It's not likely.
So who still has a chance?
If you ask the anglers, they'll tell you they're all still in it — even Russ Lane and Clark Reehm, who zeroed to open the tournament. Realistically (and statistically) though, the field has probably been cut just about in half.
David Watson, a B.A.S.S. Federation Nation qualifier from Indiana, is currently the bubble boy. He's in 26th place and stands to be first competitor to miss Saturday afternoon's cut unless he can move up a place or more.
Watson is also 9 pounds off Aaron Martens' lead, and the biggest deficit anyone has ever made up in the 5-bass-limit era is 8 pounds, 11 ounces. That happened back in 1990 when Rick Clunn won his fourth Classic championship. It remains the greatest comeback in Classic history. Clunn was 14th after the opening round, 8-11 off the pace. On Day 2, he moved up the standings to 10th, but fell further back in the pounds and ounces department (9-10). Only a stellar final round — and disaster for the anglers ahead of him — saved the day.
No one's saying Watson can't do it, just that Clunn is the only one who ever has, and the odds are long against Watson.
Still, it's the Classic, and that means anything can happen.