TULSA, Okla. – Chase Outlaw knows the prey he is hunting over the final nine events of the PBR Built Ford Tough Series regular season.
Outlaw is salivating over his pursuit of a gold buckle, and his hunger will not end until he is raising the PBR World Championship Trophy on Nov. 5 in Las Vegas.
The No. 4 bull rider in the world understands every 8 seconds matters, and he is taking the approach that he has to be ruthless in his determined push at the title.
“I had seen the other day no one is really talking about me really in there contending for this world title,” Outlaw said Sunday inside the BOK Center. “Now it is time to put that foot down and not let it up.”
Outlaw then pauses and his eyes light up.
The Hamburg, Arkansas, bull rider wets his lip as he prepares to make his confident point.
“You know the thing about putting your foot on a tiger’s neck?” Outlaw asks. “You can’t let it up. That is what we are going to do. We have this tiger and we are right in the cage with it. We are right in the midst of this title race.
“We have it down and we got the foot on its throat. You just can’t let it up.”
It is a bold analogy, but it applies to just how hard winning a world title is for any professional bull rider.
It also encompasses just how fired up Outlaw is for the stretch run to the World Finals.
Outlaw had bucked off 12 consecutive Built Ford Tough Series bulls dating back to the conclusion of the first half heading into Championship Sunday.
He responded by kicking that streak to the curb with authority.
The 25-year-old got things started Sunday with an 87-point ride on Dirt Man Do for a second-place finish in Round 2.
Outlaw then followed that up by winning the championship round with an 89.75-point monster ride on Air Marshall.
The ride was his seventh round win of the season and it propelled Outlaw to a fourth-place finish in Tulsa, where he walked away with 215 world points.
It was another strong showing from Outlaw, who had come into Tulsa having won a Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event (Santa Barbara, California) and Touring Pro Division event (Livingston, Montana) in a span of three days.
Outlaw heads into the Built Ford Tough Music City Knockout, presented by Cooper Tires, Friday in Nashville 873.34 points behind world leader Eduardo Aparecido.
Coincidentally, Outlaw previously rode Air Marshall for 89.5 points at the 2016 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Outlaw is trying to duplicate his second-half dominance from 2016 and win his first world title this season.
The 5-foot-6-inch bull rider went 11-for-21 (52.38 percent) with one victory and three Top-10 finishes, including a career-best seventh-place finish at the World Finals, during last year’s stretch run to the Finals.
“I ain’t the type to roll over,” Outlaw said when asked about his rapid finish to 2016 despite missing the first six months of the season because of reconstructive shoulder surgery.
However, this summer Outlaw went through the negatives of having such a stellar second-half run in 2016.
Outlaw agreed with good friend Reese Cates that he was trying too hard to repeat his 2016 summer run that earned him 512.5 points toward the world standings.
The five-time World Finalist was unstoppable last summer, winning seven events and going 25-for-49 (51.02 percent).
“He needs to relax a little bit,” Cates said two weeks ago. “He is putting so much pressure on himself to win right now. He just needs to put pressure on himself to ride to the best of his ability. Then winning comes easy because he is one of the best bull riders in the world. He is worried about winning and he is taking it personal when he doesn’t win first place. That is causing him to ride a little bit pressured up. Just try to be better than each bull. Don’t look too far ahead. Don’t necessarily worry about a world title or an event win. Ride each and every bull, and at the end of the year let the cards fall where they will.”
Outlaw said, “That is true. That is exactly true. You have to play the cards you are dealt and that was the cards I was dealt last year, and I did what I could with it. This year I didn’t have to, and I put that pressure on myself.
“I was trying to do that (in Round 1 and the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Tulsa). I was really putting that pressure on myself. You can’t do that.”
Outlaw has enjoyed a relatively, healthy 2017 season and is on pace to shatter his rookie year (2012) career-high of 21 qualified rides on the BFTS.
He heads into Nashville 20-for-48 (41.67 percent) with seven Top-5 finishes. Outlaw has competed in 15 BFTS events, which is the most he has ridden in three years.
Cates is excited to see his good buddy go make a push at the world title.
“He is having a year you spend your whole career hoping to have,” Cates said. “He is in a position right now to really make it a World Championship year. He has to keep his foot on the gas.
“He has a legitimate shot to win a world title this year. It is up to him.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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