Feb 26, 2013 4:38 PM by Q2 Sports
SAN ANGELO, Texas - Tuf Cooper is good with numbers.
From memory, he can tell you how much he won at the first rodeo on his PRCA permit ($743.37, Hattiesburg, Miss.), how much he won in his first PRCA rodeo as a card holder ($1,023, Huntsville, Texas) and how much he got for his first rodeo win ($5,371.03, Logandale, Nev.). Now he's got a new milestone to commit to memory. And it's a big one.
On Feb. 22, 2013, Cooper became the youngest cowboy to reach $1 million in career earnings, surpassing that milestone at the San Angelo Rodeo just 22 days after his 23rd birthday. It broke the 20-year-old record of 23 years, 9 months, set by ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductee Ty Murray during the Fourth of July run in 1993.
"That is a very cool thing to be in the same category with Ty Murray at least once in my career, considering all that he has accomplished in the sport," Cooper said. "It's amazing. It means a lot to me. I can still remember when I was about 9 years old and it was between him and my dad (Hall of Famer Roy Cooper) for who was going to become the first $2 million cowboy (it was Roy)."
Cooper surpassed the $1 million milestone by winning the third round of the tie-down roping in San Angelo, worth $2,981, and, ironically, the first check he has ever won at this rodeo.
With checks for finishing second to Justin Maass in the Feb. 23 final and third in the average behind Maass (34.2 seconds on four head) and Scott Kormos, Cooper departed San Angelo with his career total at $1,008,168.
Cooper actually had his winning run of 7.4 seconds the previous Sunday, allowing for a bit of nearly perfect symmetry. Cooper's first PRCA check - that one in Hattiesburg, back in 2008 - came 16 days after his 18th birthday and this record-producing run came 17 days after his 23rd.
"I did the math a couple of years ago," Cooper said, "and figured out that I had a chance to break Ty's record in the winter of 2013 if I kept doing the job. I turned out to be pretty much on the money. I guess I stayed the course all right."
Breaking the record in his home state of Texas makes the accomplishment even more special. Cooper, his dad, and brothers, Clint and Clif, have been coming to San Angelo for years, both for the PRCA-sanctioned rodeo and the Roping Fiesta.
There is a lot of family history in this arena, but none bigger than what Cooper managed here this year.
"To become the youngest cowboy millionaire and just do it in one event is pretty impressive," Murray said. "I did it in three events (bull riding, saddle bronc riding and bareback riding), so I had three times the opportunity. Imagine if everywhere Tuf went he had three shots at it in the tie-down roping.
"When I was a kid, Roy Cooper was literally one of the guys who changed the game. He was the biggest star at the NFR. Tuf's one of the young guys who will further revolutionize the sport, and I'm proud to see young cowboys coming up and breaking records. I wish a money record would never stand for 20 years, but having young stars like Tuf Cooper come along is what helps the sport grow."
In addition to Maass, the other champions at this $462,792 rodeo were bareback rider Kaycee Feild (175 points on two head), steer wrestler Trevor Knowles (16.1 seconds on four head), team ropers Chace Thompson and Chad Williams (20.3 seconds on four head), saddle bronc rider Jesse Bail (162 points on two head), steer roper Scott Snedecor (34.6 seconds on three head), bull riders Cody Teel and Trevor Kastner (88 points each) and barrel racer Mary Walker (43.63 seconds on three runs).