- Ann Bleiker
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For any of the 12 tie-down ropers who will be competing in the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Championship hosted by Texas Stampede, their game plan is simple: Win as much money as you can. On one side of the coin, you have a guy like four-time world champion Cody Ohl, who is trying to add more money to his record-setting total in his quest for a fifth tie-down roping title, and on the other side you have a guy like 2004 World Champion Monty Lewis who enters Dallas looking to earn a spot in his third Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Ohl (Hico, Texas) enters Dallas with nearly a $30,000 lead over the rest of the field in the ProRodeo Cowboys World Standings. His game plan is to go for first every time and extend his lead heading into the 48th annual Wrangler NFR.
"When it is that kind of money on the line, I go for first every time, and if it works, great, but if not then that is just the way it goes," said Ohl, who will be riding the 2006 AQHA/PRCA Tie-Down Roping Horse of the Year Luke. "Probably my favorite Tour Finale is Dallas because of the quick set-up. I am not sure what it is, but this one really fits me well. I have a lot of confidence heading into Dallas, so I just hope that it all falls into place."
On the flip side, there is Lewis, who is trying to stay off the infamous "bubble." Lewis (Hereford, Texas) is currently 11th in the world standings, and only the Top 15 will advance to the Wrangler NFR after Dallas. A few guys behind Lewis in the standings will also be competing for a Wrangler NFR back number in Dallas, but Lewis feels that will only make the competition that much more entertaining.
"There are a lot of guys with a lot on the line that week, and it will come with a lot of pressure," said Lewis, who won the Pace Picante ProRodeo Chute-out in May in Tulsa, Okla. "There are about three to five guys who will be roping for a NFR back number in Dallas, while others are jockeying for position at the top heading into the Finals. I think it will be better watching than in past years because there are so many guys trying to get into the Top 15."
With Lewis being so close to the No. 15 spot, many might think he would have a different game plan going into Dallas, but they would be wrong.
"I plan to go rope like I always have at the Tour Finals, because I have always had good success at them," Lewis said. "I really like Dallas and the quick set-up it provides. It is probably my favorite Tour Finals. Of course, that might also be because I have won more money there than at the others, which always helps."
Ohl and Lewis know the competition will be fierce, but that is what makes it fun.
"There are two or three guys entered in Dallas who need to win $10,000-$11,000 to make it to Vegas, so they are going to make it tough on the others because they will go at it each time they nod their head," Ohl said. "Guys like that can't afford to safety up because they need to win big, so that will make the competition that much tougher."
2006 Pace Picante ProRodeo Challenge Event Previews