LAS VEGAS – Tyson Durfey roped and tied his calf in 7.6 seconds on Wednesday night.
So did Ryan Jarrett and Clint Cooper, so the three cowboys split the seventh-round victory at the Wrangler National
Finals Rodeo, each collecting a check worth $14,231. It was Durfey’s third check of this year’s NFR; he’s earned $32,115 in seven nights of competition.
“This is the second round I ever won, which, to me, doesn’t feel like near enough because this is my fifth NFR,” said Durfey of Colbert, Wash. “The first two rounds were good. After that, I made a few little mistakes and went longer than I needed to. Luckily, I switched back to my solid horse, Bailey. This is the third year I’ve rode him here in a row.”
Bailey is 14 years old and has been a big part of Durfey’s success. But so is T.C., a horse owned by Frederico Werneck that finished in third place in the voting for AQHA/PRCA tie-down roping horse of the year. Why make the change?
“These calves this year are a lot different than in past years,” Durfey said. “T.C.’s a power horse, and Bailey is kind of a speed horse. He’s not quite as powerful, but he allows you turn cattle around better and keep them standing.”
Durfey, who was raised near Savannah, Mo., is fourth in the all-important average race with a seven-round cumulative time of 61.0 seconds. If he holds that position through the remaining three rounds, he’ll add $21,635 bonus.
“I’m not going to think a lot about the average,” he said. “My mind set is to go out and try to win first.”
That’s important, because there’s a lot of money left in the go-rounds. Plus, the competition is a who’s who in calf roping, so it’s better to not leave any room for doubt.
“I keep it the same as I approach it all year,” Durfey said. “It’s just one of those things where I rope against these guys every rodeo all year long, so I really don’t change my game plan coming into the NFR. The start’s quicker, things happen faster and there’s a lot more energy. Sometimes I just got to breathe and try to control my heart and keep going.”