SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Steve Kennedy entered the final day of the Ramada Champion's Choice as the only angler capable of moving into the top 12 anglers who will receive a postseason invitation.
His odds are long and he would need some help from Gerald Swindle, but there is still a flicker of hope left for the Auburn, Ala., angler who entered the tournament in 20th place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
"Going into the tournament I had figured if I won, I'd have a chance," Kennedy said. "And coming here, I really thought I could win. The first day, catching only 11 or 12 pounds was a real disappointment."
After such a dismal start to the tournament on Oneida Lake, it was impressive he even made the top-12 cut to fish on Sunday. Part of that was because he happened upon a school of big smallmouth on Day Two. It didn't hurt that he caught a 4-pound largemouth on his last cast of Day Three either.
"That was my last cast and it was scary because I only had eight minutes to get in and I had a long idle to get out of there," Kennedy said. "I didn't even have time to cull well because I figured it was better to lose a few ounces on the cull then get penalized a pound for being a minute late."
For Kennedy even to start thinking about Toyota Trucks Championship Week, he would need Swindle to fall hard. Here's the scenario:
• If Swindle finishes above eighth place on Oneida, he will be locked into the postseason regardless of what Kennedy catches on the final day.
• If Swindle finishes in eighth place, then Kennedy will need to win the tournament to go to the postseason.
• If Swindle finishes in ninth place, Kennedy will tie him with a second place and pass him with a win.
• If Swindle finishes in 10th or 11th place, Kennedy can make the postseason with a second-place finish or higher.
• If Swindle finishes in 12th place, Kennedy will be fishing in September if he moves up to third place or higher.
Kennedy's focus, then, has to be on a third-place finish or higher — only that will give him any shot at the postseason. Kennedy, however, had another concern of equal merit at take-off.
"What I don't want to do is go out there and bomb going for a big bag," Kennedy said. "Every point I've got is valuable because each place you fall costs you $1,000 in the TTBAOY money right there. I need to get my 12 to 13 pounds because the odds of Swindle bombing aren't very good and I need to hold steady."
Once he has the solid limit, Kennedy planned to go for bigger largemouth to give him the best shot he can at a comeback.
"I know where two big ones are that I haven't caught," Kennedy said. "In the afternoon there were people swimming around the dock, so I couldn't fish them. The way these fish act so shallow, it wouldn't surprise me if I were to skip it between the people's legs and get them to bite."