Less than 200 points separate Top 4 in world standings

The Top 4 in the world standings are separated by less than 200 points. Photos: Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com

Highlights

  • The race for the 2017 World Championship reached its tightest point all season after big performances from the Top 4 riders in the world.
  • Jess Lockwood made the biggest jump when he moved to No. 2 in the world standings just a week after a brutal wreck.
  • Meanwhile, Australian rookie Nathan Burtenshaw impressed in his first ever BFTS event.

In This Article

AUSTIN, Texas – Here are three things we learned from the Long Live Cowboys Classic, presented by Frontier Communications, this weekend at the Frank Erwin Center.

World title race becomes even closer (9-17-17)

The 2017 world title race got that much closer following another dominant weekend from surging riders Jess Lockwood and Cooper Davis.

Lockwood’s fourth event win of the season moved him to No. 2 in the world standings and pushed him to within 85 points of the world No. 1 ranking.

Meanwhile, Davis’ 2-for-3 performance, paired with his second consecutive 15/15 Bucking Battle victory, has the reigning World Champion only 194.17 points behind world leader Kaique Pacheco.

There are only five regular-season Built Ford Tough Series events remaining before the 2017 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals (Nov. 1-5) and the Top 4 riders in the world – Pacheco, Lockwood, Eduardo Aparecido and Davis – are all within 195 points of each other following Austin.  

Lockwood earned the victory Sunday afternoon with a 90-point ride on More Big Bucks in the Built Ford Tough Championship before Davis was bucked off by Beaver Creek Beau at the 6.44-second mark on the final ride attempt of the weekend.

“I love More Big Bucks,” Lockwood said. “You can’t pick much better than that.”

Lockwood then paused as Davis came over and high-fived his buddy inside the locker room.

“Good job this weekend,” Davis said before adding with a laugh, “I am going to let you pick for me next week.”

Lockwood had previously won Round 1 on Saturday night with a 90.25-point ride on Luke, while Davis was fresh on his heels in second-place after riding El Guerrero for 89.25 points.

Davis then took the lead in the event earlier on Sunday with an 86.75-point ride on Lifting Lives in Round 2, while Lockwood covered What’s Under Your Hood for 84 points.

The weekend was very much a back-and-forth between Davis and Lockwood, but Pacheco and Aparecido also threw some haymakers in the title race.

Pacheco finished second to Davis in the 15/15 Bucking Battle for 90 world points with a 90.5-point ride on Udder Lover, and he finished tied for 14th place in the regular event for an additional five world points by going 1-for-3.

Aparecido was in contention for the event victory heading into the championship round Sunday after riding The Boss (75.5 points) in Round 1 and Respect The Streak (85.75 points) in Round 2. However, his 3.42-second buckoff against Gambini in the final round resulted in a sixth-place finish (85 world points).

Aparecido dropped to third in the world standings, but he only trails Pacheco by 160 points.

The Top 4 riders went a combined 10-for-16 in Austin.

Two-time World Champion Justin McBride was not only impressed by Lockwood, but all four riders.

“Cooper Davis came down in the championship round, but don’t expect him to come down off many,” McBride said. “Pacheco is not riding bad and Eduardo is not riding bad.”

Lockwood shows toughness and resolve in victory

Jess Lockwood aged about 50 years every time he rode for 8 seconds this weekend, but he is OK with looking like he needs a walker afterwards as long as he doesn’t look like an old man on the back of a bull.

Lockwood’s victory was an impressive one after a brutal wreck last week in Springfield, Missouri, attempting to ride reigning World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser resulted in a lumbar strain in the 19-year-old’s lower back and a concussion.

The 2016 Rookie of the Year, though, put together one of the best performances of his career despite the lingering back injury.

Austin was the first event where Lockwood had two 90-point rides.

Lockwood’s last 90-point ride on More Big Bucks – the seventh 90-point ride of his career – only aggravated his injury that much more.

“He is a super great bull, but he made me twist a lot and put some strain on that back,” Lockwood said. “It don’t hurt during the ride, but only when I get off.”

Lockwood went through a series of stretching exercises with PBR Sports Medicine this weekend, and he has been using creams and lots of ice to overcome the radiating pain in his back.

The Volborg, Montana, bull rider considers himself day-to-day with the injury and hopes he will be able to give it a go again next week at the Buck Off The Island, presented by Cooper Tires, in New York.

“I should be able to go each weekend as long as it doesn’t get worse,” Lockwood said. “A lot of physical therapy this week at home.”

Who is that guy?

Austin was all about the 2017 world title race, but the rider who took home the Round 2 victory was one that had never even been on the BFTS before.

2017 PBR Australia Finals event winner Nathan Burtenshaw used an 87.5-point ride – the first qualified ride of his career – on South Texas Gangster to win Round 2 and an extremely important 100 world points.

“It was a pretty nice little bull,” Burtenshaw said. “He just was out and around the right. I just got him done. It is a big relief. I was pretty nervous before that. Last night, that was probably what cost me. Being so nervous. It is good to get the first one down. I tried to block it all out and it worked tonight.”

Burtenshaw entered the event an alternate and ranked 44th in the world standings, but the 23-year-old now leaves Texas at No. 35 after his 1-for-3 performance garnered him a fifth-place finish (120 world points).

The nine-position jump in the standings is a big one, but Burtenshaw’s lead over No. 36 Cody Rodeo Tyler is a slim 2.92 points.

Tyler used an 85.25-point ride aboard Machinery Auctioneer’s Little Joe in Round 2 to propel himself to 13th place and 20 world points.

Other bubble riders Dakota Buttar and Jordan Hansen also came out of Austin with some beneficial points.

Buttar went 2-for-3 to finish in seventh place (70 world points) and move up to 32nd in the world standings.

Hansen’s first ride of his career – 86 points on Machinery Auctioneer’s Mack Daddy – led the 2016 Canadian Pro Rodeo Association bull riding champion to a ninth-place finish (55 world points). The No. 44 bull rider in the world standings trails Burtenshaw by 73.33 points for the last guaranteed World Finals spot.

“This is a pretty cool feeling,” Hansen said. “I don’t really know any of these bulls. I don’t have much of a game plan, but I got lucky I had one around to the left and into my hand. Things worked out good.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Lockwood wins Round 1 despite back injury (9-16-17)

AUSTIN, Texas – Here are three things we learned Saturday night from Round 1 and the 15/15 Bucking Battle at the Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic, presented by Frontier Communications, at the Frank Erwin Center.

Jess Lockwood can barely walk inside the arena once he hits the ground, but the 19-year-old isn’t letting a lower back strain impede his world title aspirations.

Lockwood won Round 1 with a 90.25-point ride on Luke to edge out the red-hot Cooper Davis (89.25 points on El Guerrero) to earn an important 100 points toward the world standings.

“When you are in the race for a world title you have to cowboy up,” Lockwood said. “There is no sense sitting at home.”

Immediately after the ride, Lockwood could barely stand up straight as he back went stiff.

The No. 4 rider in the world standings gingerly walked to the PBR Sports Medicine room following the ride to receive additional treatment before Saturday night’s 15/15 Bucking Battle.

“I am just sore,” Lockwood said. “It is the whole ride itself activating the muscles in that back.”

Lockwood, who had first injured his back attempting to ride SweetPro’s Bruiser, last weekend in Springfield, Missouri, was later bucked off by Jack Shot in 5 seconds during the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

That buckoff wound up negating Lockwood’s round win in ways as world leader Kaique Pacheco placed second in the 15/15 Bucking Battle for 90 world points with a 90.5-point ride on Udder Lover.

Therefore, Lockwood only gained 10 points on Pacheco in the standings and is 580 points out of the top ranking.

Pacheco increased his lead on No. 2 Eduardo Aparecido after the 27-year-old was bucked off by Mystikal (3.26 seconds) in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

The good news for Lockwood and Aparecido, though, is they are still a full bull ahead of Pacheco in the event standings seeing as Pacheco was bucked off by Chubs in 2.72 seconds.

Aparecido turned down a re-ride option to save himself for the 15/15 Bucking Battle after riding The Boss for 75.5 points. He finished tied for eighth in Round 1.

Rounding out the Top 5 in Round 1 behind Lockwood and Davis was Gage Gay (87.25 points on DaNutso), Stetson Lawrence (86.75 points on Damn Frustrating) and Chase Outlaw (86.5 points on Big City).

Outlaw – the No. 6 rider in the world standings – was extremely fired up with his Round 1 ride after missing the past two weeks with a separated right shoulder.

“Hell we was already at this, there was no turning back now,” Outlaw said. “We just had to test it.”

Outlaw was later bucked off by Fire & Smoke in 4.71 seconds during the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Lockwood said after the 15/15 Bucking Battle that he would be good to go for Championship Sunday and his Round 2 matchup against What’s Under Your Hood.

What’s Under Your Hood (11-1, BFTS) bucked off Cody Rodeo Tyler in 2.02 seconds in Round 1.

“Yeah. I will be alright,” he concluded.

Davis wins second consecutive 15/15 Bucking Battle with career-high ride on TLW’s Big Cat

Reigning World Champion Cooper Davis knew if he could just get out of the bucking chutes cleanly on TLW’s Big Cat that he would have the opportunity to do something special.

Well, he did just that Saturday night.

Davis rode Big Cat for a career-high 91.75 points to win his second consecutive 15/15 Bucking Battle in as many weeks.

“I guess that is what happens when I finally get to get on and get a clean out,” Davis said. “That bull has a lot of hesitation and a lot of stuff to get by that a lot of people don’t see.”

It is just the second time Big Cat has been ridden in 29 BFTS outs and 38 overall.

A week after riding Cut The Cord for 90.5 points, Davis upped the ante with the sensational ride into his hand in his home state.

“To do this in Texas makes it way much better,” Davis added. “I was supposed to get on him in Arlington before (my son) Mack got sick. This good to get him down and rode.”

The ride came less than two hours after he placed second in Round 1 with an 89.25-point ride on El Guerrero.

The No. 3 rider in the world standings earned 210 world points on Saturday night and is now 429.17 points behind Pacheco. 

Cody Nance (85.5 points on Chocolate Shake / 75 world points) and Joao Ricardo Vieira (80 points on Hurricane Hustler / 60 world points) were the only other riders with qualified rides in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Vieira declined a re-ride opportunity for a chance to go for the victory in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Davis has never won a PBR event in the state of Texas in four years, and he may be able to get his first event win in Texas on Sunday afternoon.

The 23-year-old takes on Lifting Lives in Round 2. Lifting Lives bucked off Claudio Montanha Jr. in 2.59 seconds in Round 1. Davis is 0-for-2 against Lifting Lives (18-1, BFTS) this season with buckoffs of 6.3 seconds and 5.92 seconds.

“It feels like everybody here is rooting for me,” Davis said. “That means a lot.”

SweetPro’s Bruiser now tied with Pearl Harbor for No. 1 bull ranking

Most of the chatter this year involving the World Champion Bull race has been a back-and-forth debate between 2016 World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser and Pearl Harbor.

The golden question is which bull is the favorite heading into the World Finals?

Bruiser only added more fire to the race by bucking off Marco Eguchi in 5.99 seconds during the 15/15 Bucking Battle for a 45.75-point bull score.

“I really thought he really bucked,” stock contractor Dillon Page said. “I thought he was as good as he was last week (47.25 points against Jess Lockwood). The judges didn’t think so. We did our part. The bull is feeling good. We have him ready. He gave it his all. It didn’t look as fancy as it did last week. The situations were different.”

The bull score bumped Bruiser’s World Champion Bull average score to 46.28 to put him in a deadlock tie with Pearl Harbor atop the bull standings with five events remaining in the regular season.

“I don’t know if I knew, but everybody else knew it was going to come down to what we are experiencing,” Page said.

Eguchi was able to get around the corner with Bruiser in Austin, and he showed maybe a hint of a chance to make the 8 seconds. However, Bruiser was able to rip Eguchi forward once he reversed direction.

“When he reversed it tonight, he brought it hard like he used too,” Page said. “Last week he was real good, but he did the backup deal. He got way in the air and dropped hard.”

Eguchi added, “I knew he comes to the left pretty strong, so I took care of that. I put all of my body on the inside, but at 5 seconds he went forward. He was nice, but he pushes you to the outside real hard.”

Bruiser has been marked 45 points or higher in 12 consecutive outs. The 6-year-old bull has not been marked lower than 45 points since being marked 44.5 points during Round 2 of last year’s World Finals.

Bruiser is next scheduled to buck at the Rumble in the Rockies in two weeks, while Chad Berger has yet to set a timetable for Pearl Harbor’s return. Pearl Harbor is currently out of competition because of a horn infection.

While the World Champion Bull title and $100,000 will be determined at the World Finals on Nov. 1-5, the top bull at the end of the regular season does take home $25,000. The No. 2 bull in the standings earns $15,000.

 “I didn’t even think about that part,” Page said. “All I am thinking about is Bull of the Year.”

Injury Updates

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Gay sustained a right arm stinger during his Round 1 ride aboard DaNutso. Gay will be competing in Round 2 and has drawn Hitman (0-0, BFTS).

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

PUEBLO, Colo. – Jess Lockwood and Chase Outlaw understand that realistically they would be hard-pressed to find anyone inside the Built Ford Tough Series 100 percent healthy at this point in the season.

However, the two world title contenders will be two of the more intriguing riders that are battling injuries to keep an eye on during this weekend’s Wrangler’s Long Live Cowboys Classic, presented by Frontier Communications.

RELATED: Click HERE to see the full Saturday daysheet.

Lockwood – the No. 4 ranked rider in the world standings – is coming off a brutal wreck at last weekend’s PFIWestern.com Invitational, presented by Bass Pro Shops, when he sustained a lower back injury after 2016 World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser knocked the 19-year-old out cold.

X-rays on Monday in Dallas revealed no fracture in his back, and Dr. Tandy Freeman diagnosed Lockwood with a lumbar strain.

“Really good,” Lockwood said Thursday about his back. “Feels about like normal.”

Lockwood is only 590 points behind world leader Kaique Pacheco and could leave Austin as the new No. 1 bull rider potentially.

The 2016 Rookie of the Year takes on Luke (1-1, BFTS) in Round 1 and Jack Shot (20-3, BFTS) in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Lockwood has been undergoing electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) therapy at home in Montana as part of his rehab process.

EMS involves electric impulses that cause the muscle to contract. The impulses are generated by a device and are delivered through electrodes on the skin. The electrodes are generally pads that adhere to the skin.

“It contracts the muscles to loosen them up,” Lockwood said. “The physical therapist here at home has me doing it when I go in, and I have my own machine here at home so she said use it too.”

Meanwhile, Outlaw – the No. 6 ranked rider in the world standings – is set to return to competition for the first time since separating his right shoulder at a Touring Pro Division event in West Monroe, Louisiana, on Aug. 26.

Outlaw has missed the last two Built Ford Tough Series events, but he is still well-within reach of the top spot in the world standings. The 25-year-old trails Pacheco by 1,288.34 points.

The Hamburg, Arkansas, bull rider said via text message Thursday his shoulder is “good enough to win” and that he has been working around the house during his time off to help strengthen the shoulder.  

Outlaw has drawn Big City (1-1, BFTS) for Round 1 and Fire & Smoke (35-12, BFTS) in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Pacheco has drawn Chubs (0-0, BFTS) for Round 1 and Udder Lover (13-2, BFTS) for the 15/15.

Lockwood and Outlaw are giving it a go in Austin, but eight riders ranked inside the Top 35 will be unable to compete in Austin.

No. 7 Fabiano Vieira (jaw/left shoulder), No. 9 J.B. Mauney (reconstructive shoulder surgery), No. 10 Matt Triplett (left shoulder), No. 15 Mason Lowe (right elbow), No. 20 Shane Proctor (suspension), No. 21 Ryan Dirteater (right hip), No. 29 Koal Livingston (ankle/shoulder) and No. 33 Aaron Kleier (personal) are not making the trip to Austin.

Vieira said his fractured jaw is improving, but his shoulder is still holding him back from competing, while Triplett said he expects to be back for next weekend’s event in Uniondale, New York. Lowe plans on resting until the PBR World Finals in November.

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Dirteater is probable for Uniondale.

Proctor is suspended for this weekend after opting out of the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Springfield, Missouri and violating PBR rule 3.1.6.7:

“In the event that a rider withdraws himself from competition in any round due to an injury that does not prevent him from being able to compete on the basis of being medically unfit as described in rule 3.1.6.6, that rider will be deemed ineligible for competition for the next BFTS event on the schedule.”

Proctor said he understood the rule and was OK with missing next weekend’s event in Austin, Texas.

There will be eight alternate riders, as well as one Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour invite, competing in Austin: No. 36 J.W. Harris, No. 37 Cody Rodeo Tyler, No. 38 Lachlan Richardson, No. 38 Kurt Shephard, No. 40 Luis Blanco, No. 44 Nathan Burtenshaw, No. 47 Jordan Hansen, No. 49 Robson Aragao and No. 50 Skeeter Kingsolver.

Brock Radford currently holds the critical No. 35 spot in the world standings with 384.16 world points.

Only 126.66 points separate Radford from Kingsolver in the standings.

Kingsolver is this week’s Velocity Tour invite after the 28-year-old went 2-for-2 to win the Rochester, New York, event last weekend.

The 28-year-old has drawn Recovery Time (12-4, BFTS) for Saturday night.

Two riders – Burtenshaw and Hansen – will be making their BFTS debuts in Austin.

Burtenshaw won the 2017 PBR Australia Finals event average this summer and finished third in the 2017 PBR Australia standings.

The 22-year-old went 11-for-25 (44 percent) at 2017 PBR Australia events and is 28-for-73 (38.36 percent) at all levels of PBR competition this season.

Burtenshaw had his 2016 season cut short when he broke his back at the 2016 Velocity Tour event in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on April 23.

The Coonamble, Australia, native is only 105.83 points behind Radford and his pursuit of his first World Finals qualification.  

Burtenshaw has drawn Houdini’s Ghost (0-0, BFTS) for Round 1.

Hansen was able to overcome a broken ankle, which required three plates and 10 screws, to win the 2016 Canadian Pro Rodeo Association bull riding championship in comeback fashion.

The now 24-year-old injured his ankle in July and returned in November at the CPRA Finals to ride five consecutive bulls to usurp two-time CPRA champion and current BFTS rider Dakota Buttar for the championship.

2017 has been a strong season for Hansen, who also is on pace to potentially qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo as the first Canadian bull rider since 2001.

Hansen is currently 11th in the PRCA standings and 47th in the PBR standings.

The Okotoks, Alberta, native trails the PBR Top 35 by 114.16 points and is 13-for-22 (59.09 percent) in 10 PBR Canada events.

Hansen takes on Heartbreak Kid (2-0, BFTS) in Round 1.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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