With just 10 days to go before the 2009 Bassmaster Classic, there's still a lot of ground to cover ... much of it involving Classic legend Rick Clunn.
There are a lot of reasons why Clunn is a legend in the world of bass fishing. He's won four Classics, qualified for 32 — including 28 in a row — and finished in the Top 10 16 times. The Classic record book looks a lot like Rick Clunn's personal scrapbook.
But one of his greatest Classic accomplishments gets very little notoriety, and it involves the number 10.
Going into the 1990 Classic on Virginia's James River, Clunn was already a Classic luminary. He had won three titles, challenged for several others and even won an Angler of the Year award (in 1988). There seemed very few mountains left for him to climb.
Still, another Classic championship wouldn't hurt, so he set his sights on that.
On the first day of competition, Tommy Biffle jumped out to the early lead with 15 pounds, 9 ounces of Commonwealth State bass. It was a substantial catch — nearly 4 pounds better than Guido Hibdon's 11-12, which held down second.
Clunn was back in 14th place, almost 9 pounds off the lead with a small five-bass limit weighing 6-14. It looked like it wasn't going to be his year.
Things got only a little better on the second day. Although he only had four bass to take to the scales, Clunn's catch weighed 9-0 and moved him up into — you guessed it — 10th place. He had a two-day total of 15-14. But even though he had moved up in the standings a few places, he had actually slipped almost a pound further behind Biffle who now had 25-8 and led second place by almost 7 pounds.
No one had ever come from as far back as 10th place after two days to win the Classic. The closest had been Hank Parker on the very same body of water the year before who started the final day in 8th place.
And no one had ever been so far behind in weight to win. Again, Parker had come close the year before, but his deficit had been just 7-15.
The 1990 Classic certainly looked like it belonged to Tommy Biffle. And though the proverbial fat lady wasn't singing after Day 2, she was just behind the curtain and clearing her throat loudly.
To beat Biffle and win his fourth Classic, Clunn would not only have to surpass the Oklahoman's catch by nearly 10 pounds, but he needed to leapfrog the anglers that separated them in the standings. It wouldn't be easy.
That's exactly when legends are made, though, and exactly when sports heroes make their biggest statements. And that's what Clunn did.
Not only did Clunn go out on the final day of the 1990 Classic and bag the biggest catch of the day, he posted the biggest catch of the entire event — five bass weighing 18-7, nearly 3 pounds heavier than the next best catch in the tournament.
Biffle collapsed on the final day, catching a single bass that weighed less than 2 pounds. Only two other anglers in the Top 10 caught half as much weight as Clunn that day, and they were nowhere near the lead.
Clunn's effort was enough to erase Biffle's lead and jump past the rest of the field ... easily.
In the end, Clunn jumped from 10th place into the winner's circle. He went from 9-10 out of the lead to winning by almost 7 pounds in the most dramatic comeback in Classic history.
Tomorrow we're into single digits and talking about the Heart of Dixie, the Lone Star State and the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.