You’re going to need every point you can accumulate if you want to win AOY, and it starts with the first tournament. There are no throwaways.
Year after year, Elite anglers tell me they’re not thinking about AOY early in the season. They’re either not telling me the truth or they’ve taken their eye off the prize. If you want to win something — anything — it’s important to keep it in the crosshairs all the time. That includes the first tournament.
In Elite history, the worst season opening performance by an eventual AOY was 31st out of 109 anglers by KVD in 2008. Not only is that not bad and well inside the first cut, but it’s actually very, very good — and that’s the worst! Four of the seven AOYs in the Elite era ranked in the top nine in the season’s first tournament. Five of the seven were in the top 16 and all but VanDam were in the top 22.
If you want to win AOY, start strong. And if you don’t start strong, start thinking about next year. It’s that critical.
Here are the season opening finishes of the seven eventual AOY leaders in the Elite era:
2006 – Michael Iaconelli – 16th
2007 – Skeet Reese – 9th
2008 – Kevin VanDam – 31st
2009 – Skeet Reese – 22nd
2010 – Skeet Reese – 2nd
2011 – Kevin VanDam – 4th
2012 – Brent Chapman – 4th