Welcome to our Classic Countdown! It's now 37 days until the first day of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic, so we're covering all things 37 and what that number means to the tournament.
George Cochran was 37 years old when he won his first Bassmaster Classic in 1987. Kevin VanDam was 37 when he won his second Classic in 2005. Both Classics were on the Ohio River. Coincidence? Well, of course it is, but it's still kind of creepy.
The biggest 37 in Classic history has got to be the 37th Classic, in 2007 on Alabama's Lay Lake. What was so special about it — other than putting a bulge in Boyd Duckett's wallet?
Well, it was the first time that a qualifier ever won in his home state, so it was a breakthrough event. For 36 previous Classics, the hometown favorite always bombed, sometimes in spectacular fashion.
In all the previous years of the Classic, 55 anglers had the chance to win the trophy at home, but failed. Jack Chancellor (1982), Woo Daves (1988) and Dalton Bobo (1997) all made a run at backyard immortality, but fell one place short, finishing in second place in a Classic.
Chancellor got blown out by Paul Elias (Mississippi) in 1982, losing by 8 pounds on the Alabama River. Daves fell just 6 ounces short of Guido Hibdon (Missouri) in 1988 on the James River in Virginia.
Bobo lost in the most heartbreaking of ways on Alabama's Lake Logan Martin. He actually had the fish to win, but a fish care penalty (one of his bass died before the weigh-in) cost him 4 ounces and put him a single ounce behind Dion Hibdon ... of Missouri.
Paul Chamblee led each of the first two days of the 1975 Classic in his home state of North Carolina only to zero on the final day and lose to Jack Hains ... of Louisiana.
Until Duckett broke the chain of failure two years ago, the closest any winner came to being a state resident of the Classic waters came in 1992 when Robert Hamilton Jr., then living in Mississippi, won on Logan Martin in Alabama. Hamilton had lived in Birmingham for a couple of years before the Classic.
This year, only one angler has the chance to win in his home state. Greg Hackney of Gonzales is the only Classic qualifier who calls the Sportsman's Paradise home. And, since he is something of a local and has a deservedly great reputation as a river fisherman, he's the pick of many to win in 2009.
Can Hackney pull it off and follow in the footsteps of Boyd Duckett or will he suffer from the same home state jinx that has plagued every other Classic homer? Only time will tell ... 37 days to be exact.
Come back tomorrow and find out why 36 is the perfect age to be fishing a Bassmaster Classic.