Even the best of all time have a bad tournament now and again, but it’s been a long time since Kevin VanDam missed the first cut in an Elite Series tournament.
You have to go back more than three years to find the last time KVD failed to earn a check in an Elite event. He finished 57th at Pickwick Lake in 2010. Since then, he’s been in the money a record 24 straight times. That string is in jeopardy today.
VanDam ended Day 1 in 53rd place at the Alabama River. It’s his worst start in a long time, and it puts him near the bubble for making that first cut here. If he doesn’t have a better day today, he’ll do something on a Saturday that he almost never does.
The greatest of all-time will drive home.
Don’t plan to wave to him from overpasses just yet, though. He’s less than half a pound outside the cut right now, and he’s the best in the business at figuring things out and putting together a stronger second day than his first.
But if it doesn’t pan out for him, there’s also the chance that he could have his worst Elite finish ever. In 2010 on California’s Clear Lake, VanDam finished 59th. That’s the absolute worst he’s ever done … if you can believe that.
Fifty-ninth is almost inside the first cut. It’s almost good enough to earn a check. But it’s the worst KVD has ever done.
Every other Elite pro has at least one finish of 79th or worse — a full 20 places below VanDam’s nadir — and every rookie in this year’s field has a finish of 60th or worse. That really puts KVD’s record in perspective. When he’s on top of his game, he wins. When he struggles, he’s a master of damage control. The result: seven Angler of the Year titles and 23 straight Bassmaster Classic appearances.