With Round 5 of the $14.1 million Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in the books, only two teams have gone five-for-five.
Tanner Tomlinson and Patrick Smith lead the average in 27.3 seconds, and Coleman Proctor and Logan Medlin are next in line with 31.8 on five. Last year’s NFR average record-setters, Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins, are third in the early going after roping four of five in 20.6.
We thought it might be fun to ask Patrick’s first partner, ProRodeo Hall of Famer Tee Woolman, for his take on the first half of NFR 2022, with a few bonus words on just how proud his boy Patrick’s been making him feel—now that the kid is 42 and fabulous.
“Only two teams have caught all five, because these guys throw too fast,” Tee said with his trademark TeeSquantnee grin. “The new generation of headers rope for first every night. That’s just what they do. It used to be that if we missed the barrier, we might take an extra swing. Or if a steer ran hard, we’d just go knock him down. Not these guys. They have one gear, and that’s wide open.”
In 2003, Tee took young Patrick under his wing, roped with him all regular season, got him to his first Finals and helped him take that year’s Rookie Heeler of the Year honors. But he did not rope with him at the Finals.
“Patrick wanted to get married (to Christi), and I told him to wait until after the Finals,” Tee said. “Because I got married (to Jacque) right before the Finals one year (1981), roped like crap and didn’t win anything. Patrick didn’t listen, and went ahead and did it, so I roped with Meat (Kyle Lockett).”
It’s not only worked out pretty well for both of them in the wives department, but defiant young Patrick went ahead and won the average at his first Finals with Matt Tyler. They were 62.3 on 10, and less a leg in Round 5 would have broken Jake Barnes and Clay Cooper’s NFR average record of 59.1 on 10 from 1994.
Make no mistake here, Tee was proud of Patrick then, and he’s bursting with paternal pride about the man and cowboy his protege grew up to be.
“I love Patrick,” Tee said today from the stands at the Ariat World Series of Team Roping Finale here in Vegas. “I loved traveling with him and roping with him. He has a good sense of humor, and he’s just a great partner. They don’t come any better than Patrick. All I wanted was for him to wait two weeks to get married. If he’d done that, we’d probably still be roping. He listened to me about everything but that. But Patrick’s a great, great guy, and he’s had a great, great career.”
Patrick, 42, won the world with Clay Tryan in 2005, and Trevor Brazile in 2010. Patrick and Trevor won the NFR average together in 2008. Smith and Tomlinson, who’s 22, are actually posing the greatest threat to world leaders Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira at the moment, after they took their first no-time last night. Tee is certainly impressed.
Tips from Tee
“Tanner and Patrick have both roped excellent this week,” Woolman said. “If I could tweak one little thing, it’d be that Tanner’s had a little too much rope out the last couple nights. I’d like to see him take one more swing, get closer and set things up. It’d make the steers easier to heel. But he’s doing a great job, especially at his first NFR.
“Patrick’s roped great, too. They both have. I just think that if Tanner got those steers on a little shorter rope, Patrick could heel them a little faster, they’d get a faster finish and could win a little more every night. It’s team roping, so team players win the most money. And I guess I’ve got a little Leo (Camarillo, Tee’s first partner) in me, because I tend to say what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear. But hey, Tanner and Patrick have been doing great, and I’m proud of both of them.”