Alton Jones left the dock this morning with a 9-pound, 1-ounce lead. That's the seventh-biggest lead any angler has carried into the final day in Bassmaster Elite Series history. The biggest lead going into the last day was 11-15 by Mike McClelland at Grand Lake in 2006. McClelland went on to win by 15-9.
For Jones to lose this tournament, two things have to happen: (1) the wheels would have to fall off his game plan and (2) someone (probably Todd Faircloth) would have to catch at least 20 pounds.
Bigger leads have been lost in Elite Series history, but only one. In 2008, Brian Snowden led on the Harris Chain of Lakes right here in Florida by 9-14. He went out on the final day, missed every bass that struck, zeroed for the round and got passed by Mike McClelland.
Big comebacks are unusual in the Elite Series. Only six times has a lead of more than 5 pounds been overcome on the final day. And when someone does make a rare comeback, it's an angler who's already very much in the hunt. No one ranked worse than sixth going into the final day has ever won an Elite Series event.
In fact, 63 percent of the Day Three leaders go on to win. With a 9-pound lead, you've got to make Jones' odds much better than that — somewhere on the order of 99 percent. Even a small limit will shift the pressure to Faircloth, who would need a 20-pound day to have any chance at all.