An Oklahoma-born cowboy won the PBR event in Oklahoma City on Sunday, but his name wasn't Ryan Dirteater or Austin Meier.
Sean Willingham, who lives in Summerville, Ga., but was born in Norman, was the only cowboy to successfully ride three bulls over the weekend to win the WinStar World Casino Invitational at the Chesapeake Energy Arena and $35,806.
“I was born right down the road,” Willingham said. “This is kind of my second home, I guess. I lived here (in Oklahoma) until I was 5- or 6-years-old and then we moved back to Georgia where my dad grew up.
“I have always done pretty good here. I love riding in Oklahoma City. They bring the best bulls in the world here. You are going to have some good bulls to get on each and every round. This weekend I drawed some great bulls and was able to stay on them.”
Willingham, 31, got bucked off by the bull “Train Wreck” on the final ride of Sunday's championship round but it didn't matter. The other nine bull riders who advanced to the championship round also got dusted.
Willingham was the only cowboy who entered the championship round that had scored on all three bulls in the first three rounds.
“I would have loved to finish it off with a ride and get more points (in the championship round), but luckily everybody else bucked off, too,” Willingham said.
Willingham made it into the WinStar World Invitational as an alternate when another bull rider was injured. He was able to ride in Oklahoma City on the Built Ford Tough Series event, which is reserved for the top 35 riders on the PBR tour, after winning a PBR Challenger event last weekend.
Oklahoma City was Willingham's first opportunity in almost a year to ride again on the Built Ford Tough Series after being cut from the top level of the pro tour last season. Willingham had competed in 230 consecutive Built Ford Tough Series events before falling out of the top 35 in the points standings last season.
“Nine years I went without missing an event,” Willingham said. “I got cut and it was kind of hard for me that I wasn't here. It just kind of took me back. I think I was putting too much pressure on myself at them Challengers (last year) to get back here before I was ready because I was injured. I just needed to go home and heal up.”
Sunday marked the seventh time that Willingham has won in the PBR, but he said the victory was just as sweet as his first because of the circumstances. The win in Oklahoma City should ensure that Willingham remains in the top 35 and on the Built Ford Tough Series for the rest of the season.
“I think this is probably the most memorable win I will ever have,” he said. “It puts me back to where I need to be, going to these each and every weekend.”