FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE
Article16.Jun.2014 by Curtis Niedermier
Forrest Wood Cup Bubble Boys
More than 175 anglers began the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour season with hopes and dreams of making it to the Forrest Wood Cup. Only 35 of them will, and with just one tournament to go, on Kentucky Lake, a handful of pros within striking distance of 35th place will have to kick it into high gear if they want to be part of the show at Lake Murray August 14-17.
They’re trying to replace those pros who are already above the cut line, but with too small a cushion to rest easily.
This latter group is composed of the “bubble boys” – the anglers teetering dangerously close to the line separating in and out.
And of course, the prospects of the 2014 standouts at the top of the list are unofficially sealed. Barring major catastrophe, they’ll finish with enough points. The goal of a handful of these fortunate few at Kentucky Lake is to try to run down and overtake current AOY leader Andy Morgan.
All this considered, we decided to take a look at some of the pros currently sitting within 10 spots of 35th place in the AOY standings, and weigh their odds of making it to the Cup.
For reference, Jason Lambert is currently in 35th place in the standings after five tournaments with 710 points. That’s an average of 142 points earned per tournament – or an average finish of 59th place. If we use 142 points per tournament as the benchmark for estimating end-of-season AOY points, then a pro needs at least 852 AOY points after Kentucky Lake to make it over the line.
Of course, this number isn’t set in stone. The number of points that it’s taken to finish 35th has varied over the last five years, depending on the consistency of anglers throughout the field. But, a point total in the mid-800s is a pretty common cutoff for 35th place and gives us a solid threshold for debate.
Also, there are currently three anglers above 35th place who have already qualified: Andy Morgan (2013 Tour AOY), Randall Tharp (2013 Forrest Wood Cup champ) and Dan Morehead (Rayovac Central Division AOY). If they stay above the cut, FLW will extend invitations down to 36th, 37th and 38th places.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the goal for pros should be to earn at least 852 points. Here’s where they stand through five tournaments.
Morrow is averaging about 152 points per tournament thus far. He’s 91 points away from our estimated cutoff mark of 852 points. A 110th-place finish is worth 91 points. That shouldn’t be a tough challenge for Morrow, considering he’s an offshore/summertime/electronics/deep bass expert, and he just had a top 10 at Pickwick (read: momentum). He’s got a great shot at a top-50 finish at Kentucky Lake, and that’s plenty enough to get him in. His best finish on the big lake was 31st in June 2012.
Greenblatt’s in the same boat as Morrow in this, his first season as a full-time FLW Tour pro. If he finishes around 90th he’ll be right near the Cup cutoff. He has a lot of success on lakes with a good grass bite, so perhaps he’ll find top-50 fish in the grass beds near Paris, Tenn., and earn his ticket.
On day one at Pickwick, it looked like Lehew was about to sew up his Forrest Wood Cup berth. However, a tough second day bumped him down to 29th, which is still a fantastic finish and put him in a prime spot to make the Cup. Now all the Tour rookie really needs to do at Kentucky Lake is make it into check range and he should be going to the Cup just down the road from his home state. Another factor in Lehew’s favor is his experience on Kentucky Lake. He was part of a four-angler North Carolina-Charlotte team that won a collegiate event there in 2012.
Colson’s in the driver’s seat right now. He’s a local from Cadiz, Ky., and usually does well on Kentucky Lake. The only thing that could hurt him is the takeoff location in Paris, Tenn. Colson generally runs to Lake Barkley, which is connected to Kentucky Lake by a canal at their lower ends. It’s one heckuva haul to get to Barkley from Paris. If Colson gambles and makes the run, but fails, he could fall far enough in the standings to miss the Cup cutoff. It comes down to whether or not he thinks he can win it at Barkley or if he decides to play for points on Kentucky Lake.
Dudley’s made just one top-20 cut this year but has managed to not finish below 80th all season. If he matches his worst finish (80th at Sam Rayburn) thus far this season at Kentucky Lake, he’ll have 859 points. That’s dangerously close to our projected cutoff point. A top 50 would be a real nice way to lock up his Cup ticket.
Morehead already qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup through the 2013 Rayovac FLW Series, so he’s in. If he finishes above 35th place in the AOY standings, FLW will invite the 36th-place pro to Columbia.
Mathematically, Jarabeck needs to finish 69th to match our projected cutoff. Like his uncle, David Dudley, a top-50 finish would be better to bump him above the cut line.
Peek did himself a lot of good at Pickwick by finishing 13th. There’s now a lot less pressure on him to make the Cup in his rookie season going into the final derby on Kentucky Lake. Still, his trend thus far in 2014 is to follow up a high finish with a low one (35th, 141st, 12th, 86th, 13th, respectively). He’ll need to shake that roller-coaster pattern at Kentucky Lake and finish in the mid-60s to even stay above the cutoff line.
Wilson finished fourth at the Kentucky Lake Rayovac FLW Series event and 16th at the Pickwick Tour event. He has momentum right now, plus he’s got a little something figured out on Kentucky Lake that could really help him in the final tournament. He needs to finish 62nd or better to stay above 35th, assuming the cutoff point doesn’t rise.
Monsoor has had to overcome some health problems this season, but that doesn’t appear to have affected him in competition. He finished 40th at Pickwick in a mix of rainy, stormy and hot, humid weather, so surely he can stand the heat at Kentucky Lake at the end of the month. If he finishes an even 60th, he’ll be right on our projected cutoff.
Here’s your bubble dweller, though you probably don’t have to worry about Lambert missing out on the Cup. He’s in his element right now. Lambert finished second at the Kentucky Lake Rayovac FLW Series event and eighth at the Pickwick Tour event, which he needed because he had a rough go of it at Hartwell and Rayburn. Lambert should be a contender for the win at the final tournament, and he will likely be fishing on the weekend after the top-20 cut. If he is, he’ll also be fishing at the Cup.
Dodson had a huge finish at Pickwick (fifth place) to up his odds of making it to the Cup. He has a pretty strong track record on the Tennessee River, and given that he’s an expert jig fisherman, and a jig bite will probably be hot on Kentucky Lake, he should have another strong showing. He needs 143 AOY points to reach 852. That equates to a 58th-place finish.
What a story it would be if Gagliardi made the Cup on his home lake after being disqualified from the first tournament of the year. Earning zero points at the opener on Okeechobee raised a huge hurdle for the Chevy pro. But finishes of seventh, 30th, 13th and 46th have him just two spots shy of the cutoff line. Mathematically, Gags needs 144 points, or a 57th-place finish. Expect that and better. He’s won a Tour event on Kentucky Lake and is the odds-on favorite at Lake Murray if he can make it there. He’ll be strong as ever when the Tour rolls into Paris.
Wooley is another member of the Tennessee River Rat Pack. Like Lambert, he made the top 10 at the Kentucky Lake Rayovac FLW Series and Pickwick Tour events. He’ll win one of these eventually, if not at the Kentucky Tour event coming up. Forget the minimum number of points Wooley needs at Kentucky to make the Cup. He’s probably going to make the top 20, and that’ll get him to Columbia for sure.
Stefan is on pace to have his best AOY finish in four years on Tour, but he has some work to do. He’s 150 points back of our projected cutoff, so a 51st-place finish would get him to the line. A couple of double-qualifiers above him would really help the cause, but a top-30 finish would be safer. He’ll need to set his sights high for the finale.
Avena finished 11th at the Cup last year on the Red River, and by his standards is having a tough go of it this year (compared to finishing seventh on the AOY last year). But at 40th in the standings, he only needs to find a way to move up five spots in the standings and he’s in. The numbers say he needs to finish 48th – but let’s say he needs a top-30 at Kentucky to lock up his bid.
A heartbreaking zero on day two at Pickwick hurt Canterbury’s chances, but he’s certainly not out of it. He’s a favorite to finish in the top 20 at Kentucky Lake, coming off a top-10 performance there in the Rayovac FLW Series event a few weeks ago. If he can repeat that performance, the Straight Talk Wireless pro’s a shoo-in.
Certainly Bolton is a favorite at Kentucky Lake, but he’ll need to live up to expectations this time if he wants to go to Lake Murray. Mathematically, he needs to finish 46th to reach the cutoff line.
Dalbey was on pace to make the Cup this season until an unfortunate rules infraction cost him his day-two weight at Pickwick. Dalbey finished 163rd, and now he has some ground to make up. He has three top-30 finishes this season. Another at Kentucky Lake should secure his bid.
Suggs had a hot start to the 2014 season with a 15th-place finish at Okeechobee, but every finish since then has been lower than the one before it. Suggs would be a favorite at Lake Murray if he can make it, and he’d have a legitimate shot at becoming the first two-time Cup champion. But he’ll need a very solid finish at Kentucky Lake to get there.
The last of our bubble boys is Ingram. Uncharacteristically, the Centerville, Tenn., pro had a bad tournament at Pickwick and finished 94th. He hasn’t fished the Cup since 2008, and if he wants to go this year, he’ll need to finish 44th or better at Kentucky Lake, according to our estimates.
• There are currently five former Forrest Wood Cup champions above 35th place in the AOY standings: Brent Ehrler, Jacob Wheeler, Scott Martin, Randall Tharp and David Dudley.
• Randy Haynes is in 48th place. He’s the Kentucky Lake favorite. A top 30 would get him above our projected cut line.
• Directly behind Haynes in the standings is Andy Montgomery. He’s a South Carolina local who should be a favorite at Murray if he can make it.
Complete AOY standings
>For complete AOY standings, click here.