EDMONTON – 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis didn’t want to just be a part of a winning team at the Global Cup, but the 23-year-old wanted to be a difference maker.
He knew Team USA head coach Justin McBride entrusted him with the responsibility of being a team captain, and Davis was going to make sure his riding and leadership didn’t let down his coach, his team and his country.
Captain America made sure of that on Saturday night by putting the red, white and blue on his back and carrying them to an inaugural Global Cup victory with an 89.25-point ride on Catfish John in the Bonus Round.
Davis showed the poise, leadership and MVP talent necessary to win an international battle for bull riding dominance on the road in a foreign country inside Rogers Place.
“This is the coolest event I have ever been to,” Davis said. “I would put it right up there pretty close to winning that world title. Our country needs a pick-me up and maybe this is it.”
Coincidentally, Davis previously had ridden Catfish John for 91 points during Round 5 of the 2016 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals to win the 2016 World Championship.
This time around, Davis wasn’t riding for himself, but for the six men on the back of the bucking chutes that were representing an entire nation of rabid supporters back home.
“He is my favorite bull all time,” Davis said. “Me and him seem to get along pretty good. He bucks hard. There is never a moment though on the back of that bull that I think I have it done. It is 100 percent try every time.”
McBride didn’t even blink an eye about having Davis go for the victory in the bonus round on Saturday night.
Team USA was guaranteed the top pick of the Bonus Round draft after going 6-for-7 in the long round and McBride wanted to put his Team Captain in a position to ride Catfish John and bring the PBR Global Cup Trophy home to the United States.
“Yeah, I was going to lean on the champion,” McBride said. “When you get down to big moments that is what champions do. He was the ’16 champion. When it gets down to crunch time that is the guy that is going to get the ball.”
Davis had all of the momentum in the world on Saturday following a rough start to the competition Friday. The Jasper, Texas, bull rider responded to his 2.69-second buckoff aboard Milky Chance in Round 1 by riding Set ‘em Up Joe for 88.75 points.
Following the ride, Davis expressed his commitment to making sure his team didn’t fail in their pursuit of a championship in Canada.
“It is pretty cool to be a part of it, but I don’t want to be a part of it,” Davis said. “I want to be a reason we won.”
This was all part of McBride’s plan after choosing to not use Davis in the Bonus Round Friday night after a ticked off Davis was bucked off by Milky Chance in round 1.
“The way the draft (Friday) was going to go, I felt pretty confident in those matchups and I didn’t want to use him until we had to,” McBride said.
Davis wasn’t bothered one bit by McBride’s decision to roll with Stormy Wing and Brennon Eldred in the Bonus Round on Friday night.
He knew his time would come, and he was confident in Eldred’s chances against Moleek and Wing’s ability to spur the snot out of Red Bandana.
“You have to be a team player in this deal,” Davis said. “I think we set the guys up that would match with the bulls. Yeah, you want to be the guy, but at the same time you have to sit back and analyze who is going to the best on which bull. We made the right choices.”
Davis was arguably the biggest team player of them all at the PBR Global Cup.
Following a frustrating third-place finish in the 2017 World Championship race, Davis spent most of Monday and Tuesday working side-by-side with McBride to find replacement riders for Team USA after Jess Lockwood (ribs), Chase Outlaw (shoulder) and Matt Triplett (shoulder) all opted out of the Global Cup because of injuries.
It took until late Tuesday to get a full team committed, but the end result was a championship in Edmonton.
“Cooper has been a very big part of this team,” McBride said. “I told you months ago he was going to be the captain of this team. That is what a true leader does. He leads by example. That is what Cooper Davis did this week.”
Davis, though, knows he couldn’t have done it without his teammates and Wing, Eldred, Cody Teel, Cody Nance, Derek Kolbaba and Cole Melancon all played pivotal roles in Team USA’s championship.
“We are a young team and are a bunch of young guys that grew up watching the World Cup,” Davis said. “This could be the only chance we are all together as a team, and we were going to make it count. I have been really pleased with the team we had even though it isn’t the team we initially had.
It was really cool. It’s not your everyday average event where you’re rooting for one guy. You’re rooting for your country and it just really gives me chills thinking about having everyone in the country rooting for you. You’re rooting for your country. It was not just about us individually. It’s a big deal.”
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