ANAHEIM, Calif. ― In four weeks, Shane Proctor has gone from being a mere alternate replacing an injured rider on the Built Ford Tough Series to becoming the No. 1 ranked rider in the world.
Proctor, whose best finish came in 2011 when he was ranked ninth in the world, is now the top-ranked rider for the first time in his eight-year BFTS career.
"It's a surreal feeling," Proctor said. "I worked really hard and in the last year and a half there's been a lot of disappointment, but when you work hard good things come your way. Luckily everything is working out right now.
"Getting good bulls, that's half the battle here. I'm just excited to be up here and be No. 1."
Proctor has won two of six BFTS events and two of the four he's competed in to unseat two-time defending World Champion Silvano Alves, who has been the top rider since August 2012.
"I'm always ready to battle whoever or whatever comes."
Having trailed Alves by 491.29 points at the start of the weekend and now claiming a 316.96 point lead, Proctor completed an 853.25 point turnaround by winning the LiftMaster Invitational in Anaheim, Calif.
The last American to be ranked No. 1 was L.J. Jenkins, who held the spot for all of two weeks before giving way to Alves. The 25-year-old Brazilian went on to make history by becoming the first rider in PBR history to win back-to-back world titles.
The 27-year-old Proctor - he turns 28 in March - said he still has a long season ahead of him.
"Stay on all your bulls," said Proctor, when asked how he plans to remain a contender, "follow Silvano's direction - that's what he's done the last two years. That's why he's the two-time World Champ."
Proctor added, "I'm always ready to battle whoever or whatever comes. There are a lot of really good bull riders who win every day of the week. You know, there are 35 guys here today and all 35 guys could have won today. It's just this was my weekend and it worked out."
He started off Friday night with 85.75 points on Running M's Rambo and followed up on Saturday by splitting the round win with Jory Markiss. Proctor rode Keepin It Real for 87.75 points to take the lead in the average after two of four rounds.
The Washington native, who now lives in North Carolina, never surrendered that lead.
In Round 3, he took third with 87.5 points on Buck Rogers and then selected Buckmaster with the first pick in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round bull draft. Having already secured the win, Proctor nodded his head, rode, and took his second round win of the weekend with 89.25 points.
"It's a long, hard battle," said Proctor, who added, "Injuries can take a toll on guys, guys can go in a slump and luckily for me I'm going to continue to work out and stay in shape - just keep doing what I've been doing riding loose and cool."
Proctor will be featured in a full-length story Tuesday afternoon.
ARMAGEDDON: L.J. Jenkins had hoped to get a shot at Asteroid and the $45,000 Monster Energy bonus if the rider who selected him managed to make the whistle. Instead Eduardo Aparecido took Asteroid with the seventh of 14 picks in the final round.
Asteroid needed virtually no time to buck off the Brazilian newcomer.
Judges marked him 44 points. However, nine-time World Champion Ty Murray said he had no idea how anyone was able to score him after barely seeing the reigning World Champion Bull.
Afterward, Circle T Ranch and Rodeo owner Jeff Talley said, "We just want him to do the best that he can do and he's bucking really good right now. Last year, he established himself as a World Champion and this year we're trying to give him a chance to repeat or at least do what he wants to."
Talley, who will be profiled the same week as the Iron Cowboy IV, and Gene Melton, who handles and hauls Asteroid, both said they're leaning toward taking Asteroid to Kansas City; Arlington, Texas, and then another long run that includes Fresno, Calif., and Albuquerque, N.M.
Asteroid is unridden in three outs this year in which he bucked off former World Champions Guilherme Marchi and Mike Lee. Asteroid was last ridden in 2012 when Mauney took him the distance in San Antonio, Texas.
As for defending his title against Bushwacker and others, Talley said, "I feel really good about it. We're going to haul him all over the country this year and go to as many events as we can with him ― just to give him that opportunity."
NOW INTRODUCING: Two familiar names ― Sean Willingham and Jordan Hupp ― were part of an unfamiliar portion of this weekend's event when they were introduced among the Top 5 riders during opening segment of the BFTS in Anaheim. Willingham said he hasn't stood atop the chutes since 2008 and added that, perhaps, it may have been 2007 when he was last ranked among the top contenders.
Until now, Hupp had never been ranked in the Top 5.
"It is nice," Hupp said following Friday night's opening. "It's nice because that is where you want to be at, but I know, for me personally, I don't try to blow myself up too much. I feel like for me to get a big head is a hindrance to me, for my riding. I try to keep it in reality and the reality is that next week you can be way outside of the top. It changes really fast. I can't worry about that. I have to keep riding bulls."
SYSTIMATICALLY MAKING A STATEMENT: Proctor, 1; Willingham, 8; Robinson, 16; Reese Cates; 20; Eduardo Aparecido, 21; Joao Vieira, 23; Brant Atwood, 27; Zack Brown, 30; Troy Wilkinson, 33, and Malone, 35, are all ranked in the Top 35 despite not having qualified for last year's World Finals and beginning the 2013 season competing at Touring Pro Division events.
All 10 of them were afforded the opportunity to compete at BFTS events based on the new point structure used to determine the world standings, which includes 25 percent of the TPD points earned.
"It just happened to play out in my favor," Cates said. "It really helped me to refocus my attention on bull-for-bull instead of worrying about money."
This weekend, Cates admitted that in years past he paid too much attention to money-needed secure a place in Las Vegas in October. "The key to anybody's success in this sport," he stated, is "one bull at a time."
While the TPD events went well, he said, "I'm just excited to be here [at the BFTS] and looking to make the most of it."
INJURY UPDATES: Mauney sustained a left leg injury, which Dr. Tandy Freeman described as a contusion and possible fibula fracture after he was stepped on in Round 1. He aggravated the injury again in Round 3. He did not take an offered re-ride and will have x-rays performed Monday or Tuesday. He is questionable for St. Louis.
On Saturday and again Sunday, Mauney borrowed Billy Robinson's lace-up boots because of a swollen ankle and a badly bruised foot. He did not initially have X-rays because the results would not have impacted his decision to try and finish the event. His surgically repaired riding hand is also swollen and sore.
Renato Nunes miss Round 3 because of a left shoulder contusion sustained in Round 1. He is probable for St. Louis. Jason Malone also missed the third round with a left rib injury (costochondral sprain) sustained in Round 1 and aggravated in Round 2. It was a tough weekend for Malone, who also sustained a concussion when he hit the ground hard as he was thrown from his first round bull Friday night.
Robinson finished the three-day event despite sustaining a left chest injury (probable rib fracture) when he was hooked after being thrown from his first round bull.
THIS & THAT: Several celebrities were out this weekend. Among them were Jason 'Turtle' Freese (Green Day), Gary Matthews Jr. (retired Major League Baseball player), Josh Lucas (actor) and Robby Krieger (guitarist, The Doors). … This season, Jenkins has bucked off five bulls and three of the buckoffs he stayed on his bull for more than 7 seconds. … Two weeks ago there were only two Brazilians ― Silvano Alves and Robson Palermo ― ranked in the Top 10. Now that number has doubled with the addition of Agnaldo Cardozo, Marco Eguchi and Marchi, while the injured Palermo dropped out of the Top 10. … Harve Stewart just missed the Anaheim draw, so after watching Friday's opening round he flew up to Yakima, Wash., where he entered a TPD event twice. He split the opening round with himself after scoring a pair of 86-point rides and then won the event with a 90.5- point effort in the championship round. He'll be in St. Louis next week. … The draw for the upcoming Iron Cowboy IV is now set. The Top 8 riders from the final 2012 standings will receive an opening round bye, while the Top 16 riders as they stand today will round out the rest of the 24-man draw. Any alternates will be selected from the standings as it this week. … Anaheim was the 95th consecutive BFTS event in which Jeff Robinson hauled bulls. He'll reach the 100 event milestone in five weeks when the BFTS returns to California for an event in Fresno. … A trio of Brazilians ― Palermo (shoulders), Valdiron de Oliveira (back) and Fabiano Vieira (ankle) ― are expected to return to competition next week in St. Louis, Mo.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC
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