LAS VEGAS, Nevada – After round three of the 2010 PBR World Finals on Friday, October 22 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Brazilian bull rider Renato Nunes needs to go belt shopping. He needs a new home, after all, for the buckle he received for winning the round.
Maybe he should buy two. From the looks of it, he’ll be needing another one Sunday, for the World Champion buckle.
Nunes won round three with an 89.25 pointer on “Closet Gangster” (Mesa Bucking Bulls/Bierema Rodeo Co.) After those points, and 400 bonus points for winning the round, he is less than 120 points behind Austin Meier in the race for the World Champion buckle.
But with Nunes also leading the World Finals average – and its 2,500 bonus points – the World Champion buckle, at this point, is his to lose. And riding like he has been, that won’t be happening.
In fact, as if practice for Sunday, at the buckle ceremony at Mandalay Bay Casino after round three, Jeffrey Scott, of Jeffrey Scott Fine Magnetics which makes all of the PBR Finals buckles, let Nunes check out the buckle up close.
Nunes was honest when he said he hopes he is taking that buckle home with him too.
Odds are, he will be.
Meier has one qualified ride in the books, of three outs, and JB Mauney, who has dropped to number three behind Meier and Nunes and is riding with a separated shoulder after a round one whooping from his bull, hasn’t covered a bull yet. While either could ride well enough to get a bigger lead on Nunes on the ride points alone, with the bonus points for each round and for the overall finish in the mix, it would take a mathematical miracle for anyone but Nunes to walk away with the World Champion title and the $1 million payday on Sunday.
And the one with the best odds of catching him is number four man Valdiron de Oliveira, who has been riding hot and is high in the average standings as well. In round three, Oliveira – the round two winner – rode “Ready Freddy” (Jeff Robinson Bucking Bulls) for 82.75 and 17th place in the round.
The possible spoiler to put a crimp in Nunes’ overall bonus points would be the new Brazilian phenom at the finals, Wesley Lourenco, who is riding in his first BFTS event at the finals, qualifying as the PBR Brazil champion. Though nowhere near the World Champion race, Lourenco is only four points behind Nunes in the World Finals average – and they are the only two men to have ridden all three of their bulls so far.
On Wednesday, Lourenco rode “Foolish Pride” (4L & Diamond S Rodeo Company) for 88.25 points and an $18,000 payday. He finished third in round two and 15th in round one.
Third in Round three was Cody Campbell, riding “Depths of Dispair” (Box K Cattle) for 87.75 points, his first qualified ride of the Finals.
Fourth through sixth place was shared by Jason O’Hearn, Wiley Petersen and Ross Coleman, at 87.25 points. They rode “Over the Edge” (Lufkin Ranch & Rodeo), “Pandemic” (Mark Ward) and “RFD-TV” (Teague Bucking Bulls LLC/RFDTV LLC) respectively. It was the second score for Coleman, and the first for O’Hearn and Petersen.
Seventh through ninth in the round was also a three-way split, between former world champions Chris Shivers and Guilherme Marchi, and Paulo Lima, at 87 points. Shivers rode “Another Husker” (Dakota Ranch/Chad Berger/Clay Struve); Marchi covered “Little Juicy” (Don Kish Bucking Bulls) and Lima took on “Bad Moon” (Circle T Ranch & Rodeo). Shivers sits fifth in the average race so far, Lima at 7th and Marchi at 12th.
Rounding out the top 10 in round three was Shane Proctor, riding “Far West” (Martinez Bucking Bulls LLC) for 86.75 points, Proctor’s first score of the week. Evidently “Far West” didn’t like being rode, because the bull first tossed Proctor through the air after the ride, then pitched bull fighter Jesse Burne, who stepped in to protect Proctor. Both walked away unhurt.
In round three, 18 riders put qualified scores in the record books. As of the end of that round, a total of 32 riders have at least one qualified ride – two (Nunes and Lourenco) have three scores; 12 riders have two scores; and 17 have one.
Among the surprisingly scoreless at the halfway point of the World Finals are JB Mauney, who is riding with a separated shoulder suffered in round one; reigning world champion Kody Lostroh, who returned to competition in August following surgery that had him out much of the season; the Aussie dancing machine Ben Jones, who has been riding like a man possessed for the past few months; and Skeeter Kingsolver, who had inched his way up the standings through the season, high enough to qualify for several of the “Final Five Showdown” bonus rounds.
Action continues with round four Saturday night at the Thomas and Mack, and then wraps up on Sunday with rounds five and six – the Championship short-go – when a new world champion will be crowned.
Odds are, that man will be Nunes, and he’ll get that much coveted gold buckle and, in his words Friday night, “my dream will come true.”