Tim O’Connell Looking for Fourth World Title at 2021 NFR
Tim O’Connell will likely pass the $2 million in career earnings at the 2021 NFR, but that is the last thing on his mind. O’Connell will be competing for his fourth World Title at his eighth career NFR. After winning three consecutive world titles between 2016 and 2018, O’Connell has come up just short in the last two seasons. In 2019, O’Connell finished in third place and last year, he finished in second place after Kaycee Feild won the World Title in the 10th round of the NFR.
O’Connell finds himself in a similar position entering the 2021 NFR, sitting just $6,000 behind World No. 1 Tilden Hooper.
Hooper and O’Connell have been going back and forth throughout the entire 2021 season, and it began at The American Rodeo in March. O’Connell took second place in the shootout round with an 89.25 point ride, which was just short of Hooper’s 90.5 point ride which won the rodeo. Although it wasn’t a win, O’Connell took home a $25,000 check and he and Hooper separated themselves from the rest of the field.
Outside of his American win, O’Connell’s next biggest payday came at the Riggin Rally Xtreme Broncs in Weatherford Texas. O’Connell opened his weekend with an 85 point ride which would earn him second place in the second round. That would set him up for a matchup with Gun Fire in the finals. O’Connell would post one of the highest marked rides of the year across all events with a 94 point ride to take the win. In total, he won $10,700 on the weekend.
TIM O’CONNELL, RIGGIN RALLY XTREME BRONCS, 94 POINTS
In late April, O’Connell made a trip to San Angelo, Texas for the Cinch Chute-Out. In round one he went 88 points which would secure his spot in the finals where he went 89.5 points and got the win. The two rides earned him $7,500 and O’Connell continued to close the gap between him and Tilden Hooper, who earned $2,000 at the rodeo.
TIM O’CONNELL, SAN ANGELO CINCH CHUTE OUT, 89.5 POINTS
O’Connell’s most impressive stretch came in the first two weeks of July. In his first eight rides of the month, O’Connell averaged 87.25 points per ride including going 90 points or more three times at the Calgary Stampede. O’Connell capped the impressive stretch with a 91.5 point ride at the Calgary Stampede and won the rodeo.
TIM O’CONNELL, CALGARY STAMPEDE, 91.5 POINTS
After a big win in Calgary, O’Connell turned around and performed just as well at the Cheyenne Frontier Days. He opened up the rodeo with an 87 point ride which would win the round. In round two he went 86 points for a second consecutive round win. The two-round wins weren’t enough for O’Connell who swept the rodeo and won the final round with an 89 point ride.
TIM O’CONNELL, CHEYENNE FRONTIER DAYS, 89 POINTS
In total, he won $23,317 at the rodeo and continued his quest for the top spot in the Bareback World Standings, but keeping with the theme of the season, Tilden Hooper finished in second place in Cheyenne and earned $18,400.
At the end of the season, O’Connell was unable to catch Tilden Hooper but made up plenty of ground to put himself in a great spot heading into the 2021 NFR. If the regular season is any indication, O’Connell and Hooper will be going back and forth at the Thomas & Mack this December to decide who will claim a Gold Buckle.