Steve Woolsey reacts to his score in the bull riding competition during the first go-round of National Finals Rodeo Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) By Isaac Brekken
Steve Woolsey competes in the bull riding competition during the first go-round of National Finals Rodeo Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) By Isaac Brekken
Joe Gunderson rides Good Times to a first-place finish in the bareback riding competition during the first go-round of National Finals Rodeo on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) By Isaac Brekken
A fan waves a flag before the start of the first go-round of 52nd annual National Finals Rodeo Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) By Isaac Brekken
Bucking bull Cajun Monkey goes after bull fighters during the first go-round of National Finals Rodeo Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) By Isaac Brekken
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Calf roper Clif Cooper won in his National Finals Rodeo debut Thursday night, taking the first round with a 7.9-second run.
Cooper, from Decatur, Texas, is one of three calf roping brothers who qualified for the NFR. Younger brother Tuf, second in the world standings, was fourth in 9.50, and Clint Cooper was 11th at 17.8.
"I was telling my brother out back right before I roped that I wasn't nervous, for some reason," Clif Cooper said. "It really surprised me because I thought I'd have those jitters, those butterflies. I prepared really, really hard, and I felt good."
Trevor Brazile, also from Decatur, was seventh at 10.10. He's the world leader with $142,736.
Fred Whitfield of Hockley, Texas, making his 19th NFR appearance, was third in 9.10.
In bareback riding, Joe Gunderson of Agar, S.D, also won in his NFR debut, scoring 88 points on Good Times.
"This whole year has been a dream come true for me, and I've been fortunate with the way everything's gone," Gunderson said. "I don't have anything to complain about, and the way the finals have started it can't get any better than that."
In saddle bronc riding, defending world champion Jesse Kruse of Great Falls, Mont., won the opening round with an 87 on Lipstick & Whiskey.
World leader Wade Sundell of Boxholm, Iowa, was second with an 86.5 on Vidalla. Kruse, appearing in his second NFR, is fifth in the standings, but only $13,837 behind Sundell.
"It's (being the defending world champ) not a whole lot different, aside from that they announce you as the world champion," Kruse said. "It starts all over right here pretty much, and everybody has to bear down and go after it because everybody has a chance."
In steer wrestling, Billy Bugenig of Ferndale, Calif., notched his first NFR win with a 3.4-second run.
"This is quicker than any start we got all year," Bugenig said. "When I went to Luke's (Branquinho), and Wade's (Sumpter) and Kenneth's (Lewis) to practice, I thought I (had) a good start, and they'd all tell me I missed it by a foot and that I had to go faster. I never really felt like I could go as fast as they were saying. It felt like I was going to break the barrier, but I guess I didn't."
In bull riding, D.J. Domangue of Houma, La., won with an 88.5 on Black Cat.
In all-around, nine-time world champion Brazile remained in first place with $306,862. He has a $169,400 lead over second-place Curtis Cassidy of Donalda, Alberta. Brazile is trying to break the record he shares with Ty Murray by winning an eighth all-around gold buckle.
In team roping, header Colby Lovell of Madisonville, Texas, and heeler Kory Koontz of Sudan, Texas, won with a 4.1-second run. World header leader Clay Tryan of Billings, Mont., and heeler leader Travis Graves of Jay, Okla., earned a paycheck by coming in sixth in 5.3.
In barrel racing, Lisa Lockhart of Oelrichs, S.D., won with a time of 13.84 seconds. Wortd leader Sherry Cervi of Marana, Ariz., the career earnings leader in barrel racing, was 10th at 14.30.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)