Classic in the crosshairs

Three days ago, on the eve of the Diamond Drive, Ish Monroe and Takahiro Omori had good reason to worry about qualifying for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic.

Monroe was 50th in points; Omori was 46th. Without a good finish on the Arkansas River, they could be shut out through the Bassmaster Elite Series. There would be too much ground to make up in the season finale next week.

On Saturday morning, Omori said the pressure to make the Classic each season is always in the background because he’s already a Classic champion.

“When you have won the Classic, you feel you have to make it every year,” said Omori, the only non-American to ever win the sport’s most prestigious tournament. Omori is a Japanese native who now lives in Emory, Texas.

Omori won in 2004 on North Carolina’s Lake Wylie. He’s a seven-time qualifier from 2001 to 2010, missing in 2006, 2009 and for the 2011 Classic held last February.

“I have a chance to make it (in 2012) if I stay in the top 10 this week,” he said Saturday morning. “And I have to do good next week, too. But I’m not putting extra pressure on myself because of the Classic. If it works out, fine. If not, then it does not.”

Monroe of Hughson, Calif., recently embraced a don’t-worry philosophy. His new mental attitude about his fishing performance applies to a Classic qualification, too, he said Saturday.

“What’s going to happen out there today is going to happen,” Monroe said. “I’m not thinking at all about the Classic, I’m thinking about going out there and just having fun.”

Not stressing over the Classic doesn’t mean they don’t want it. Double qualifiers will be a huge help in helping them toward that goal. Although the Classic cutline was reset this season to 28th place on the points list, the final cut probably will be somewhere around 37th or 38th because of double qualifiers.

After Friday’s competition, the points standings — unofficial, unawarded and subject to change radically before they’re final on Sunday — have Monroe up to 41st place. Omori rose to 34th place. Both made the 50 cut Saturday, and in the top 12 to boot.