99 and Looking Up

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Just like cold November rain, championship streaks don’t last forever.

After 28 consecutive Bassmaster Classics, Rick Clunn failed to qualify for the 2002 derby.

After 24 in a row, KVD worked the Expo at Hartwell in 2015.

Now, after two FLW Tour events, Andy Morgan is in danger of missing the Forrest Wood Cup for the first time since 2002. That’s 15 in a row for the Dayton, Tennessee, pro, and it’s not like he’s just been squeaking in – every year since 2007 he’s been in the top ten in the AOY race, including three AOYs and two runner-up finishes.

If anything, many fans might be inclined to argue that the probability of him making the cut has increased in recent years as a bunch of FLW hammers have left for the Elite Series, and the FLW schedule has remained short and somewhat repetitive. But now that short timeline has him in a pickle because he finished 148th at Okeechobee and 48th at the Harris Chain and he sits in 99th place overall.

If anything, though Morgan might’ve saved his season on Day Two at Harris, as he moved up 31 valuable places thanks to a limit that weighed 15-03. That pushed him into the money and out of triple digits.

With five regular season tournaments left to go, he’s certainly not out of it. In 2014, Anthony Gagliardi was disqualified at the season-opener at Okeechobee. He managed to finish in the money in the next five tournaments to qualify for the Cup, which he won, but it’s not like he needed to run the table with top tens to get it done. He finished 7th at Hartwell and 13th at Beaver, but 30th, 46th and 48th in the other three. There’s no reason that Morgan couldn’t do pretty much the same, which some of the anglers ahead of him swap places. After all, this is a guy who did the unthinkable in Red Man (now BFL) competition years ago when he won all but one tournament in a given division one year. The one non-win? He finished second. Maybe that’s not the same degree of difficulty, but if it was easy someone else would have done it.

I don’t know Morgan well enough to analyze how this might be affecting him. I’ve spent a grand total of one day in the boat with him and interviewed him a handful of times, so I have no particular insight into his psychological makeup. The big question for me, though, is how he handles a failure to qualify or a near miss. While missing a championship is never a good thing, the 2015 miss seems to have reenergized the already-energetic VanDam. Not only has he qualified for all three Classics since then, but he’s also won four B.A.S.S. events after not winning one for five years.