Welcome to the tightest Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race since 2008. Currently, there are four anglers within 100 points of the lead. Three years ago, when there were six anglers within 100 points of the lead after six events, things were a bit tighter, but with a very big difference. That year there were 11 regular season events to crown the AOY. This year there are only eight.
That means that with two tournaments to go, there are as many as 10 Elite anglers with a chance to take home the big prize. Realistically, however, it's still a three or four horse race as we head to the stretch.
Terry Scroggins was the most notable angler in the AOY hunt that moved up. He took the small, but tremendously significant step from second place to first in the quest for the most prestigious title in professional fishing. He's now in the driver's seat and (along with some help from the bass) controls his own destiny.
Casey Ashley and Davy Hite both moved up nine places after their winner and runner-up finishes on Lake Murray, respectively. Hite (now 6th) and Ashley (now 9th) both have very outside shots at the title. Realistically, it's as much because there are too many other anglers between them and the lead as because they trail by quite a few points.
Alton Jones dealt his AOY dreams a severe blow with his 88th-place finish at Murray. Now, instead of prepping for the home stretch and hoping to cruise to the title, he's chasing Big Show and in a dead heat with the greatest competitive angler of all time (Kevin VanDam). If momentum was on his side before, it's surely left him now.
Any plans Pat Golden may have had to hoist the AOY trophy after the Wheeler Lake tournament are now dashed. By virtue of his 81st-place finish, he now ranks 20th in the AOY standings. It's even possible that he could fall out of Classic contention in the next two tournaments.
Stephen Browning has seen his fortunes change from good (15th place at the midseason point) to treacherous (33rd after Murray). Where he was once comfortably inside the cut, now he's on the bubble.
Trending up ... or down
In what may be a classic example of too little, too late, Brian Snowden came into the Murray tournament in 61st place. After his 6th-place finish, now he's 40th with a chance to move up and into the Classic field with a couple of good finishes in the final two events.
On the flip side of that coin, Elite rookie Andy Montgomery slipped all the way from 10th to 25th in the AOY standings after his dismal 82nd place finish. It likely killed any chance he might have of qualifying for All Star week after the regular season.