After winning two consecutive go-rounds of the 2019 Wrangle National Finals Rodeo, Chad Masters and Joseph Harrison are now securely in the hunt for the gold buckle at number-two in the PRCA world standings and number-two in the NFR's average race.
The flag fell in 4.2 seconds when Masters and Harrison roped at first out, a full half second slower than their time in Round 4, but still worth $26,230.77 each for first.
[Related: Masters and Harrison Connect for Round 4 Win]
"It did feel a little bit more in control," Masters said. "I did try to let this steer take a step, and he was a little bit faster and a little bit sharper than I thought. I felt behind just a little bit. I don't know, I'm happy with how it went."
"I was a little late, and Chad read me good and just kind of waited on me, which was outstanding," Harrison, who already had his Round 4 buckle on his belt from the night before, said. "If he hadn't had waited on me there I'd have been on trouble. But he waited on me good, and I'd like to give a lot of credit for me getting to throw at that steer to my horse, Main Street. He makes steers, like where I dummy up and I'm late, he just closes the gap for me. I honestly don't think he can run that fast, but his steps aren't wasted. He doesn't go the wrong way first and have to overcome that. He always goes to the perfect spot so he doesn't have to be very fast I don't guess. Steers like that make you really appreciate your partner and your horse."
Masters, who won world titles in 2007 and 2012, has won three NFR average titles along the way as well—one in 2006 with Allen Bach, one in 2012 with Clay O'Brien Cooper and one in 2017 with Travis Graves. He also holds the arena record at the NFR at a 3.3, set in Round 9 of 2009 with Corkill. But the nine-year gap between Masters' last round wins in 2011 and Rounds 4 and 5 of the 2019 NFR would suggest Masters style has changed a bit, and that's a trend he confirms and is working to overcome.
"I've been practicing for the last three weeks, like every year, to go fast," Masters explained. "It seems like in my earlier days, I went fast. And then I learned to be controlled, and it made me more money so it's hard to talk myself into going fast now. But we've been trying. I worked on it for the last three weeks trying to go fast. I know it wasn't as fast as last night, but it was a lot smoother."
According to the PRCA's projected world standings, if the rodeo ended tonight Clay Smith would win the world title in the heading, and Harrison would win the heeling gold buckle. At present, Smith—who split second and third in Round 5 with partner Jade Corkill—has $213,819.91 in official 2019 earnings. Corkill has $171,945.62. Masters and Harrison—both second in the world after Round 5—have $164,759.49 and $167,508.36 won, respectively.
"Everyone here, all of us, we hope it goes our way and that's what we're all here to do," Masters said. "A lot of tough guys to rope against, and Joseph has a really, really, really good shot, so I'm great with it if I can just do my job and help him get it. That would be the best case scenario for me. If we have things go great, then that would work for me too."
"I think we should just go ahead and get Chad one," Harrison said. "If we get him one, I'll for sure get one, and I'm good with that."
Brenten Hall and Chase Tryan still lead the average on five head with a time of 24.2 seconds on five head. They've yet to break a barrier or rope a leg, and they've won $50,192.31 each along the way. Masters and Harrison have earned $69,230.77 a man so far in Las Vegas, which leads the team roping high-money earners of the week. Smith and Corkill are second in money earned, with $63,307.69 each over five rounds.
That money is helping Clay Smith in the all-around race, too. Smith now trails leader bull rider Stetson Wright by $20,790, and World Champion Tie-Down Roper Tuf Cooper trails Smith by $17,685. Smith fifth in the average with four out of five head down, while Cooper is second in the average in the tie-down. TRJ
1. Chad Masters and Joseph Harrison, 4.2, $26,230.77 each
2/3. Coleman Proctor and Ryan Motes, 4.4, $18,192.31 each
2/3. Clay Smith and Jade Corkill, 4.4, $18,192.31 each
4. Luke Brown and Paul Eaves, 5.1, $11,000 each
5. Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp, 5.3, $6,769.23 each
6. Brenten Hall and Chase Tryan, 6.3, $4,230.77 each