AOY: The Big 12, maybe

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Denny Brauer took home $100,000 in cash after the Diamond Drive, but the other big winner of the day may have been Edwin Evers.

Evers didn’t make one red cent. But he did gain 12 points in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. Without ever making a cast, the distance between VanDam in that points’ race shrunk from 67 points yesterday to 55 today. That’s the difference between firstt place and 12th place at Lake Wheeler.

That’s too close for comfort for KVD, close enough for Evers to smell blood.

Make no mistake about it, the race now comes down to those two guys. Unless of course you think both of them could bomb next week in Alabama. Given both of their records on the Tennessee River, it’s my guess one of them won’t. It’s more likely both of them will be on the top of their game.

In some ways Evers may have a slight advantage. He got an extra day of rest today. He’ll be ready to practice while KVD will be driving from Little Rock to Decatur, Ala., all night.

Although we might be making a big deal about 12 points lost today, KVD will be driving away from Little Rock a happy man.

“I came here wanting to gain the lead in the AOY race or at least put myself in a position to have a shot at the title,’’ VanDam said. “I did that. What more could you ask for?”

I don’t know, maybe another 12 or 20 points?

Regardless, the Diamond Drive is over and the expected impact to the AOY points’ race played out as expected. The tournament turned tough, and the two guys who have a knack for turning tough into money finished within the top 20, setting up a showdown for next week.

Everything they will have to deal is likely to be more consistent.

The Arkansas River was setting up, after weeks of flooding to be a lights-out affair, but the floodwaters dropped too rapidly and the best conditions occurred during practice, never during the tournament.

“I can promise you if the water flow had stayed where the (U.S. Army) Corps (of Engineers) forecast said it would be, no one would even have heard of Pine Bluff in this event,’’ local angler Kevin Short said.

Short, along with Scott Rook, both masters on the system, performed well below the expectations. And somehow all their experience was thrown out the window by a river that was being sucked dry instead of falling. Their points’ race and hopes for a Classic bid are out the window unless they win next week.

Their backs are against the wall, just like about 65 or more of the Elite anglers who will start tomorrow’s practice with hopes of something happening in their favor. They will either need to catch a few, catch a lot or downright win.

In the middle of all that you have KVD and Evers hoping to best each other, while the rest of us are wondering just how important those 12 points really could be.

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