An Irish caddy was once asked me if I knew what they call a mulligan in Ireland. When I said I didn't, he replied, "your second shot." In life and sports sometimes it is hard to get a second chance. There are a couple Wrangler National Finals Rodeo contestants who would kill for a mulligan today.
Fred Whitfield rode into the arena on Thursday and all was well with the world. He was ranked second in the aggregate and first in the world. When the clock finally stopped 20.7 seconds later his weekend plans had changed. Cody Ohl won the round passing Whitfield in the world standings and the aggregate race. Whitfield has gone from being the hunted to the hunter. The gloves are about to come off in tie-down roping.
Kelly Kaminski would also love to have a do-over. Her life was even more secure than Whitfield's at the start of Round 7. Kaminski was No. 1 in the world and the aggregate. But her horse, Rocky, broke the clover-leaf pattern, leaving Kaminski with a no time and a vastly different outlook for the final three rounds.
Kaminski and Whitfield are both very much players for their respective world championships, but their game plans have changed. Whitfield will be in a "match roping" situation with Ohl, as my broadcast partner Butch Knowles pointed out on ESPN2. Kaminski has a $32,600 lead in the world and will now have to pursue go-round dollars to make up for the advantage she has lost in the aggregate payoff.
Teddy Johnson is now in the driver's seat in steer wrestling. Johnson has won two rounds in a row and seized the lead in the world standings. The last three steps will prove to be the toughest. Birch Negaard, Frank Thompson, Shawn Greenfield, and Rod Lyman are just waiting for Johnson cool off or make a mistake.
Terry Don West set a single-season bull riding earnings record last night. At $184,595.87 he has gone where no bull rider has ever gone before. At the age of 38, West is trying to become the oldest bull riding world champion in history. He has stretched his lead to nearly $42,000. You would think one or two more qualified rides will seal the deal.
Round 7 has had the biggest impact in the '03 Wrangler NFR so far. The world championship picture is coming into a fine focus and the stage is set for a very exciting weekend in professional rodeo.