RENO - Glen O'Neill put the pressure on co-leader Billy Etbauer, but the four-time world saddle bronc champion was up to the task.
O'Neill came through with an 85-point ride, but Etbauer answered back with an 87-point effort of his own to win the title Saturday night at the Reno Rodeo.
It was Etbauer's first win at Reno since 1991, and it put him just a few thousand dollars short of $2 million in career earnings. It also tied him with his brother, Dan, who also won twice at Reno.
O'Neill was second with 244 points, and Rod Hay and six-time champion Dan Mortenson were third at 240.
"Glenn made a nice ride, and everything came through good for me," said Etbauer, who had runs of 90 and 87 this week. "I'll take it.
"No it didn't matter (what position he started for the finals). You just have to take care of your end of the deal. If It pans out, it pans out."
Etbauer hopes kicking off the summer schedule means that better things are ahead for him. He was injured off and on during the 2003 season.
"I never really thought about retirement, but I wasn't sure if I wasn't catching the hint that I was supposed to," he said. "I was just hurt all the time. I was sick and tired of being sore. When I was home, I couldn't even do things around the house."
Jason Jeter opened the night with a bang, putting together an 87-point ride on Spider Mountain Dip to win the bareback title. He totaled 247 points, one better than Bo Casper, who also scored 87 on his final ride. Royce Ford was third at 245 and second-round co-leader Will Lowe was fourth at 243.
Six of the 12 riders in the finals broke 80 points, and only one rider, second round co-leader Cleve Schmidt scored less than 75.
"If I could have handpicked the horse I would be on, I would have chosen the horse Bo Casper was on, and then the one I had. He was a little horse, but he bucked every single time. Bigger guys wouldn't have done as good on him."
One of the first people Jeter was going to call was his old traveling partner Pete Hawkins, who won in Reno two years ago. Hawkins got hurt in Red Bluff earlier this year, and is currently in a wheelchair. His injury, according to Jeter, could be a career ender.
Casper, who isn't even mentioned in the PCRA media guide, enjoyed his best rodeo. He gave his best Hulk-like impression after dismounting from Smokeless Spring Fling.
"I knew he was one of the best bucking horses," Casper said. "I was scared to be on him. This is the best stop I've ever had; the crowd, the horses and competing against these top cowboys was great.
"I was just so happy. I'm not afraid to let my emotions take over when I'm out there."
Ronnie Fields won the steer wrestling thanks to a 3.5-second effort in the short round. He was tied for eighth entering the last round, but the aforementioned 3.5 shot him past the rest of the field.
"It was a good steer," Fields said. "Sean Mulligan (a fellow competitor) had told me about him. He said that he would work for you. Hopefully I can keep things rolling.
"I've had some other good wins. I won at Dodge City. This was the first time I've been to Reno. I had a good ride."
J.D. Hoagland, thanks to a final-round 85, won the bull riding. Hoagland was in seventh place when the night started. He edged Paulo Crimber, who put together an 87-point ride, 167-166 for the title.
They were the only riders to post scores, which allowed the aforementioned duo to move up in the standings.
Defending world all-around champion Trevor Brazile won the tie down roping, posting an impressive 9.2 in the finals en route to a 26.6.
Steve Purcella and Britt Bockius combined to win the team roping, upsetting seven-time world champion Speed Williams and his partner, Rich Skelton. Purcell and his partner finished at 17.9. Williams and Skelton had a 22.1 time in the short go and fell down in the middle of the pack.
Paula Seay won the barrel racing with a final-round 17.36. She finished with 51.85 unofficially for her three rides. Second-round leader Janet Rusk, riding on a borrowed horse, clocked a 17.94 and fell back in the pack.