PARIS LANDING, Tenn. - Under normal circumstances a pro doesn’t get overly excited about placing 48th in a tournament, but you would have thought that Anthony Gagliardi had won the way he reacted after Friday’s second-round weigh-in here on the shores of Kentucky Lake in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude.
Though the Chevy pro didn’t make the cut and won’t fish Saturday, he did learn that he had qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup, a goal that had seemed virtually impossible to him in February. Because of an inadvertent rules infraction, Gagliardi was disqualified from the first Walmart FLW Tour event of the year – at Lake Okeechobee – and faced a steep uphill climb through the season to earn a berth in the championship. It takes place August 14-17 on Lake Murray near Columbia, S.C. It will mark Gagliardi’s 10th appearance as a pro in the Forrest Wood Cup.
“Release, relief, elation combined with just about every other emotion you could imagine – that’s what I feel right now,” says Gagliardi. “To be honest about it, I thought my season was pretty well laid out for me when I learned I was disqualified. I planned to fish every tournament and do the best I could, but I didn’t feel any pressure because I felt it [qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup] was such a long shot. But then I had a good tournament at Hartwell [seventh place], and as it went along I started thinking that it was possible. And that’s when I started feeling the pressure.”
After Hartwell, the FLW Angler of the Year in 2006 finished 30th at Sam Rayburn, 13th at Beaver Lake and 46th at Pickwick Lake in early June. By then, it was apparent that Gagliardi’s season was riding on this, the last qualifying tournament of the year.