I’ve been asked several times about who might win the Classic this year, other than me, of course. I’m going to give you four guys who I think you should watch. When you think about them, or anyone else’s picks for that matter, keep in mind that the Bassmaster Classic is a unique event. Everyone who qualified knows how to bass fish. Any angler can jump up and win. I think the old sports adage is, on any given day…
VanDam (Obvious) Kevin is the kind of competitor for whom the Classic was designed. He’s at his best under pressure when decisions have to be made quickly, and when they have to be made right.
His performance in 2009 will make a difference, too. He had a terrible first day followed by a dynamite second day. Nevertheless, he almost made the cut. That would make most anglers happy, or at least give them some sense of accomplishment. Not him. He’ll want more this time.
Hackney (Obvious) I know Greg had a tough time of it in 2009. But that was then, and this is now. He’s the best shallow water river angler in the Elite Series and probably in all of bass fishing. That just might spell trouble for the rest of us.
Don’t forget, he’s won big, high dollar events before — the Forrest Wood Cup on the Three Rivers. If he gets a good start, the pressure won’t bother him like it will some of the other guys. I honestly think he might be the one this year.
Brandon Palaniuk (Not so obvious) I talked about Brandon last week so you already know what I think of him. He’s good, he’s ahead of the curve and he’s hungry. That can make for a winning combination.
I know he only has 10 B.A.S.S. professional tournaments and one Classic under his belt but don’t let that fool you. He’ll do his homework. He’ll be ready. And he’s won on the Red River before.
Keith Combs (Not so obvious) Keith might look like a real sleeper to the casual fan. To those who know professional bass fishing, however, my putting him on the list will come as no surprise. This guy can fish. Mark my words; he’ll be one you’ll hear about over the years.
He might be young but I can tell you from personal experience he works hard, has solid preparation skills, and he has a no fear attitude. I know what that means. He beat me last fall on Lake Conroe in the Toyota Texas Bass Classic in a sudden death fish-off after we tied during regular competition.
This is my list. Everybody has one. Take mine for whatever you think it’s worth. Do me one favor, though. Don’t take it personal if your favorite angler isn’t mentioned. It’s just my opinion of who I think might be in the hunt come the final day. We’ll know if I was right or wrong in just a few weeks.