|Win and You're In is Working|
Southern Open #1 - 197 Pros
Central Open #1 - 178 Pros
Versus an average of 136 Pros for the 2011 season, that's almost a 40% increase over last year.
Granted that's only 2 events and numbers tend to drop as a the season wears on but dang, that's a healthy jump.
Some of the gains comes from Elite pro's dropping back and trying to punch a ticket to Classic early so they can swing for the fences in the Elites. Add to that local sticks from one of the three lakes in the series fishing all three with the hope of killing it on their home pond and making the Classic. Last but not least are anglers that are trying to move up to the Elite level and you've got a pretty impressive field.
Sure the numbers aren't where the invitationals were in the late 80's and early 90's with 200+ anglers, but they are getting damn close.
The losers in this scenario?
Regional Pro -Ams: The season for most hasn't started but the hand writing may already be on the wall with long time mid-west circuit Heartland Pro Am dropping form the scene this year.
The Opens' biggest competitor for anglers, The FLW Everstart Series, has been flat, with a difference of 1 or 2 anglers over 2011 thus far. If there is any competition for angler between them the Opens win so far this year hands down.
The promise of a Classic berth is the draw, resulting in the largest percentage growth in a circuit since the 90's.
It will be interesting to see how if they can sustain these numbers through the rest of 2012.