When Ott DeFoe won the Douglas Lake Northern Open on Saturday, it made one of his fellow Elite Series anglers very happy. We’re just not sure who it is yet.
Since DeFoe did not compete in all three Northern Opens, the automatic berth that he would’ve claimed will now allow an additional angler from the Elite Series points standings to qualify for the 2018 Bassmaster Classic.
Prior to the Douglas Lake Open, there were two double-qualifiers in the top 35 in the Elite Series points standings – Brandon Palaniuk (Texas Fest winner) and Jordan Lee (Bassmaster Classic winner). Neither are in danger of falling out of the top 35 at the Angler of the Year Championship at Mille Lacs Lake this week.
DeFoe’s victory now means whomever finishes 38th in points will be headed to the Classic. DeFoe is 5th in Elite Series points and a lock for the Classic.
There are two other anglers in the AOY event field who have qualified for the Classic, but are outside the top 35 – Jesse Wiggins (39th) and Mike McClelland (48th). Both won Open tournaments earlier this year. If either or both are able to climb inside the top 38 in points, they will be considered double-qualifiers and additional anglers will be Classic-bound via the points.
With the Northern Opens wrapped up for 2017, we have a clear picture of which anglers will be receive Elite Series invitations for 2018 from the Division. Here’s a look at the top 10 in points:
1. Wesley Strader: 562 points
2. Frank Poirier: 549
3. Jake Whitaker: 539
4. Chad Pipkens: 520
5. Chris Groh: 494
6. Wil Hardy: 492
7. Steve York: 492
8. Patrick Walters: 492
9. Brad Burkhart: 490
10. Matthew Sphar: 485
The top 5 finishers who are not already Elite Series qualified will receive invitations. Wesley Strader will be the one to watch as the longtime FLW Tour competitor and one of the most consistent pros of his era now has a decision to make about his future.
With Chad Pipkens finishing 72nd in Elite Series points this year (the top 70 automatically requalify), he’ll use his Open points finish to punch his ticket for the 2018 season. If any of the other top 5 finishers decline the invitation, that spot will be offered to the next eligible angler in the 2017 Elite Series points standings, starting with Drew Benton in 71st.