Sorry about the week off last week. We’ve been a little busy over here at Bass Rankings, but we promise to make it up to you.
How about breaking down the favorites for this weekend’s Forrest Wood Cup? Yeah, that should do it. Let’s start crunching.
Right off the bat, the odds-on favorite to win this weekend’s Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier is David Dudley. The guy won Angler of the Year (his third time doing so), won two tournaments this year, finished 11th the last time the Cup was at Lanier in 2010 and he happens to be the No. 1 angler in the world. That’s what you call a whole lot of awesomeness.
So what do the numbers say? He’s definitely a contender. There have only been three Major events on Lanier since 2000 (a 2011 PAA event, the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup and a 2006 FLW Series). Dudley fished both FLW events and earned an 11th and a 21st. Or, put differently, the third best average among pros on the fishery (884.814). It will be more shocking if he doesn’t make the top 10 than it would be if he won his second Cup.
Helping Dudley’s cause (and everyone else’s for that matter) is the fact that two favorites won’t be in the field, as both local Tom Mann Jr. and 2010 Cup champion Kevin Hawk failed to qualify for this year’s championship.
That opens the door for another local who nearly took the Cup last time — Troy Morrow. The former BFL All-American winner finished fifth back in 2010, and he took 14th at the PAA event. He knows Lanier as well as anyone in the field and is primed for another top 10 … at least.
Then there’s Wesley Strader. He has the highest average on Lanier of anyone in the field (895.060) thanks to a 16th and fourth in the two FLW events. I remember watching him at the Cup last time and thinking he was close to making the top 10. He should get much closer this go-around.
Now it’s time for two names that you wouldn’t expect to do well at Lanier but have: JT Kenney (843.536) and Andy Morgan (836.423). You think these two and you think flipping or grass or shallow or Tennessee River. Not gin-clear, deep Lake Lanier. But both have proven their skills transfer nicely. Kenney clearly had the fish dialed in last time for awhile before faltering, and he will be someone to watch, as he has momentum after winning the EverStart at Champlain.
Three other names to throw out there because of their averages are Clark Wendlandt (840.632), Dave Lefebre (766.038) and Shinichi Fukae (742.561). All three are stalwarts on the Tour and are primed for success at Lanier, particularly Fukae, who is one of the best finesse fishermen in the world.
Want two guys who won’t show up in the rankings as favorites (haven’t fished enough events on Lanier) but clearly are? Brent Ehrler and Cody Meyer. The two finished fourth and second in 2010. They both are California, clear-water savants. They’re both deadly with drop-shots. Ehrler has won a Cup and Meyer has made three straight top 10s in the Forrest Wood Cup. Both should be ones to watch. As should Bryan Thrift, who won’t show up for the same reason, but will show up come tournament time, because like the rest of these guys named, he’s pretty darn good on Lanier.
Enjoy the Cup! And remember to check back on Monday to see how the Majors World Ranking shakes out!