Scroggins, Ashmore punch tickets to the 2010 Classic

MANNING, S.C. — With three finalists separated by only four points going into the final stop of the Bassmaster Southern Open on Santee Cooper Lakes, Florida pro Terry Scroggins had to perform at the top of his game if he wanted to make it to his seventh Classic. Scroggins did, closing out his tournament on Santee Saturday with a 4th place finish, winning the Opens points standings and qualifying for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic.

"Making it to the Classic was my main goal this week, and I had a lot of fun running around jumping stumps in my Triton," Scroggins said. "We have the best service crews in the business, and I took the time out on the first day to decide what my next move would be rather than get stressed out over a busted power head."

Scroggins' patience paid off as he collected his invitation to the Classic. (He had already re-qualified for the Elites through his standing in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points).

"Today I just tried to move up as much as I could," he said. "I've been to Lay Lake (the 2010 Classic location) a couple of times before, and the last Classic there was probably the coldest I've ever been out on the water, but I'm still pretty excited."

Oklahoma pro Scott Ashmore of Broken Arrow will be fishing his first Classic. It will also be his first time on the central Alabama impoundment.

"The fact that I've finally made it hasn't digested yet; this is a dream come true," he said. "I feel like I'm spinning."

Ashmore was a long shot to make it to the Classic, but two key pros faltered, which opened the door for him. Elite Series Peter Thliveros of Jacksonville, Fla., was third in points going into the event but did not make the cut to fish all three days. Fellow Elite Series pro Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala., suffered the same fate. Ashmore's consistency paid off and he earned an Elite Series invite and a Classic berth.

If it is feasible for him, Ashmore plans on fishing the 2010 Elite Series.

Besides Scroggins and Ashmore, five other Southern Opens anglers qualified for the 2010 Elites: David Kilgore of Jasper, Ala., who was just 17 points behind Scott Ashmore, Mark McCaig of Oxford, Ala., Bradley Roy of Lancaster, Ky., Keith Poche of Troy Ala., and Mark Menendez of Paducah, Ky., earned a double qualification with his seventh-place finish.

The 2010 Elite Series kicks off at the California Delta on March 11-14, and ends on the Arkansas River on June 20.