Nov 5, 2012 7:30 PM by Q2 Sports
GUTHRIE, Okla. - Two-time world champion Rocky Patterson came into the second night of the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping Nov. 3 in the odd position of holding the lead while simultaneously being the underdog.
Sixteen-time world champion cowboy and defending world champion steer roper Trevor Brazile was just $303 behind him and holding the lead in the average after five rounds, so Patterson knew he would have to press - and press hard - for go-round money to have a chance to add the 2012 gold buckle to his collection.
"A lot of people were saying, ‘Unless Trevor messes up, you other guys don't have a very good chance,'" Patterson said. "But you don't want to count on Trevor messing up. We're used to Trevor roping flawlessly; that's Trevor every day."
And the thing is ... Brazile didn't mess up. He roped all 10 steers over the two days to join Phil Lyne as the only men in ProRodeo history to win average titles in three different National Finals events (team roping 2008 and tie-down roping 2010 were the others), and he won by a margin of 61.7 seconds over Mike Chase.
Only a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation - Patterson had a better night. He toppled the king. He earned checks in all five rounds, winning two, and clinched his third world championship in four years by winning the 10th round in 10.3 seconds.
He edged Brazile for the gold buckle by a margin of just $418.
When asked how his third world title compared to the first two (2009-10), the man who spends his days when he's not roping for money running cattle and training horses reflected on his place in the sport.
"When you're a kid you dream about the first one, so that one will always be special," Patterson said. "There are some great cowboys who have won a world championship. Then, when you talk about winning two, the list gets a little shorter. And when you get to three...well, that's an even different club you join, I guess."
And the way Patterson won No. 3 made it even more special. This was as close a competition as one could hope to have to decide the world championship and it was tension-filled from the first moments.
When round 10 began, there were several possible scenarios that could have ended with any of the top three in the standings at that point, Patterson, Brazile or Vin Fisher Jr., winning the championship. Fisher roped first among the three, tying his steer in 10.8 seconds to take the lead in the round and lock up third place in the average.
Then it was Brazile's turn to rope. Needing only to record a time to win his first NFSR average title, he made an aggressive run on a hard-running steer, tying him in 11.5 to move into a tie with Ralph Williams for a share of third in the go-round. His 127.5-second total on 10 head was the fastest since Jarrett Blessing's NFSR average total in 2007.
More importantly, he had forced Patterson to not only win the last round to take the title, but do so in 10.5 seconds or faster to forge ahead of Chance Kelton and finish in the fifth and final place in the average.
"I've always roped pretty conservatively, that's how I was taught," said Patterson, a 46-year-old cowboy from Pratt, Kan. "It took a long time for me to learn to be able to let my hair down and go fast when I have to. I guess I've been around long enough to do it now."