“I guess I’m good at the grinds and the tough tournaments.” Story by BASS ZONE – Matt Pangrac
Posted – June 29th, 5:45am CDT
Emory, TX – If you were to tag Takahiro Omori’s 2011 Elite Series season, it could fittingly be dubbed as “A Tale of Two Halves.” Battling tendonitis in his left hand throughout much of the off season, the 2004 Classic champion got off to a rough start by recording finishes of 87th and 89th in two of the first three tournaments of the year.
While not traditionally fast out of the gates, it was still Omori’s worst start to a season in his career dating back to the inception of the Elite Series in 2006. With a much needed 23rd place finish on Toledo Bend to mark the midway point of the season, Omori knew that he had his work cut out for him in order climb high enough in the Toyota Tundra Angler Of the Year standings to qualify for his eighth Bassmaster Classic.
That’s when things started to click for the Texas pro. He recorded finishes of 28th and 31st at West Point Lake and Lake Murray, and then carefully navigated his way to a Top 20 finish at a stingy Arkansas River that dashed the Classic hopes of many of his fellow competitors.
Entering the final tournament of the season on Wheeler Lake, Omori still had a shot, but after some number crunching determined that he needed a Top 20 finish to punch is ticket to Shreveport next February. After the first day of competition on Thursday, he was in 25th place. On Friday, he moved up to 15th. On Saturday, Omori initially finished in 13th place but moved into 12th when Skeet Reese disqualified himself for finding a sixth bass in the livewell after the weigh-in was over.
Before discovering that he had actually moved up one spot in the standings and would fish on Sunday, behind the weigh-in stage it was evident that a huge weight had been lifted off of Omori’s shoulders. “I don’t care that I’m not fishing tomorrow. I qualified for the Classic and that’s all that counts,” he exclaimed with a big smile. After finding out that he would indeed launch his boat on Sunday, Omori admitted that yet another weight had been lifted in the process. “Wow, this is the first Top 12 finish in an Elite Series tournament for me since 2009,” he explained. “I haven’t fished on Sunday since the last time we went to Oneida.”
With the 12th place finish at Wheeler, Omori finished the year in 32nd place in the TTAOY standings, 13 points ahead of Brandon Palaniuk who finished the year in 37th place in the TTAOY standings and is currently the final automatic qualifier through the points.
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