This is probably the most important thing on this list and the one that costs would-be AOYs the title most often. They don’t mitigate their damages.
No tournament angler wins all the time. What truly separates the champs from the wannabes is damage control. When the best have a bad event, they finish 60th. When the rest bomb, they really struggle and finish near the bottom. The difference is everything.
To win AOY at the Elite level you don’t need to finish in the top 20 every time out. In fact, no one’s ever done that for a full season. Instead, you need to string together four or five very competent finishes, sprinkle in a couple of great events (including maybe a win that we’ll cover in a moment) and post only one performance that’s below average.
Of the seven eventual AOYs, the worst performance ever turned in during the season was 68th place at Douglas Lake by Brent Chapman in 2012. Iaconelli in 2006 and Reese in 2007 each had a tournament nearly as bad. Only Reese in 2009 and KVD in 2011 went the full AOY season without a finish worse than 56th, which is just outside the first cut.
More on this a little later.