GROVE - Scoring his second Bassmaster Elite Series victory of 2007, Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., totaled 78 pounds, 2 ounces, over four days of competition at the Sooner Run, outdoing home state favorite Jeff Kriet of Ardmore by nearly 4 pounds.
With the victory, VanDam's 12th, he adds $100,000 to his career earnings of nearly $2.5 million, which makes him BASS' all-time money leader.
The victory also propelled VanDam to the top of the standings for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, one of the most prestigious awards in the sport.
VanDam joins 2006 Sooner Run champion Mike McClelland of Bella Vista, Ark., the only other two-time Elite Series winner. Coincidentally, VanDam, whose other Elite win this season came on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville, predominantly used the same lure, a Strike King crankbait, in both Elite wins.
"I have had a couple of mediocre tournaments this year and that really motivates me to do well," the 39-year-old said. "Fishing against this level of competition really fuels my competitive nature. Once you get the taste of victory, you want nothing else."
Concentrating on main lake and secondary points with the crankbait, VanDam did well early, boating two keeper bass in the morning. As is his customary style, the two-time Bassmaster Classic champion moved frenetically around the lake.
He concentrated on depths of 4 feet to as deep as 15 feet. The key, he said, was to locate points that were unique and to thoroughly work his spots with a number of casts.
"Persistence was the key," VanDam said. "I had confidence in my spots, and although I moved around a lot I was thorough in my approach."
After a tremendous Saturday, in which Kriet weighed the biggest limit of the tournament, the Oklahoman slipped to second with a sub-par final day of 14 pounds, 8 ounces. He failed to notch his first Elite victory and second BASS victory, but did move up from sixth to fourth in the Angler of the Year standings.
Primarily working Carolina-rigs and swimbaits on picturesque Grand, Kriet failed Sunday to entice the big bites he enjoyed Saturday.
"I don't feel like I did anything wrong execution-wise," the 38-year-old said. "It was a great week. My day is going to come soon. I am going to win one of these events soon. Mark my words."
Fellow Oklahoman Edwin Evers of Talala finished third, just ounces behind Kriet with 73 pounds, 7 ounces. In fourth was Kevin Short of Mayflower, Ark., with 72 pounds, 7 ounces. Tied for fifth with 70 pounds, 11 ounces, were Davy Hite of Prosperity, S.C., and Kelly Jordon of Mineola, Texas.
Marty Robinson of Landrum, S.C., entered the day in third and slipped to seventh with 69 pounds even. McClelland, the 2006 Sooner Run champion, finished 11th with 66 pounds, 14 ounces.
The next Bassmaster Elite Series tournament is July 12-15 on Lake Champlain out of Plattsburgh, N.Y.