PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — As the weigh-in on Day Three of the Champion's Choice presented by Toyota Tundra wound down, Shaw Grigsby sidled up to Timmy Horton, who was watching the standings backstage.
"What's the spread?" Grigsby asked the tournament leader.
"Nine-thirteen," Horton replied.
Grigsby broke into a huge grin. "When you win one," he told Horton, "you run with it."
The 2000 Angler of the Year and Rookie of the Year hasn't won this tournament — yet. But barring a meltdown — or Steve Kennedy sneaking a couple of pike across the weigh-in stage — Horton on Sunday will taste victory in a Bassmaster event for the first time since 2004.
"I would love to have a win," he told the weigh-in audience on the northern shore of Lake Champlain after his 64-pound, 6-ounce week was tallied. "I've been wanting this for a couple of years now."
Horton stuck with the same southerly water and bait (a Booyah football jig) that brought him this far. His 18-8 limit was his smallest of the tournament thus far, but plenty to widen his lead on Kennedy, who had led Horton by four ounces after Day One.
Kennedy weighed in a respectable 15-5 bag, losing ground to Horton but staying firmly in second place with 54-9. And that's where he aims to finish. So sure is he that he won't lap Horton, he revealed the bait he has been using this week — a black frog with a black-and-blue tail — and conceded that nothing short of divine intervention will push him into first place.
"I'm 10 pounds behind in northern strain water," Kennedy said. "Timmy walked away with it. I'd have to run all new water to have a chance. I can't gamble like that."
Kennedy had 12 pounds at noon, then found himself culling three fish from a spot where he promised he'd stay for only 10 minutes before his long run up from the south end of the lake. Quantity was never a problem for him, as he had places where he could catch 10 pounds in a blink. But quality lacked. "I think I've caught all the big, aggressive fish," Kennedy said.
Britt Myers made the big move of the day, jumping from 10th place into something resembling contention at third place and 51-14. He said he was "spazzing" Saturday afternoon after sacking a 5-pounder. Knowing he needed just a couple of good fish to round out his sack, he cast quickly at a calm patch that appeared amid gusts of wind. Then "bam, bam," he said. "Two 3-pounders. I knew that was it." This top-12 cut is his first of the season.
Fred Roumbanis (51-9) slipped from third to fourth, and said his goal is now just to get the biggest fish of the day, to drop another $1,000 bonus check into the college fund of his infant son, Jackson.
The rest of the final 12 fishing on Sunday: Peter Thliveros (5th, 50-13); Skeet Reese (6th, 50-9); Yusuke Miyazaki (7th, 50-4); Grigsby (8th, 49-12); Tommy Biffle (9th, 49-7); Takahiro Omori (10th, 49-5); Cliff Pace (11th, 49-0) and Bradley Hallman (12th, 48-7).
Steve Daniel, Rick Clunn, Scott Rook, Paul Hirosky and Brent Chapman — who had been fourth through eighth after Day Two — all tumbled out of the final cut on a day when 5 pounds separated fifth place from 20th.
Editor's note: Check in daily during the tournament for live video of the weigh-ins and a realtime leaderboard at 3 p.m. ET Thursday through Saturday. ESPNOutdoors.com will air Hooked Up, the live Internet shows, on Sunday at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon ET on Sunday. The 45-minute Hooked Up show begins at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, leading into the final live weigh-in and a realtime leaderboard at 3:45 p.m. ET.
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