PUEBLO, Colo. – The PBR’s 25th Anniversary Tour begins Friday night at Madison Square Garden in New York with the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden, and PBR.com will be counting down the final days of the offseason by taking a look back at the Top-5 bull riders at the conclusion of the 2017 season.
Today, we look at Derek Kolbaba, who finished the 2017 Premier Series second in the world standings.
No. 2 Derek Kolbaba
World Championships: 0
Best World Standings Finish: 2 (2017)
2017 Premier Series Stats:
Riding Percentage: 34.48 percent
Top Ride: 93 points on SweetPro’s Bruiser (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
Wins: 5 (Oklahoma City; Little Rock, Arkansas; Uniondale, New York; Colorado Springs, Colorado; San Jose, California)
15/15 Bucking Battle Victories: 0
Round Wins: 8
Top 10: 9
Top 5: 7
90-point Rides: 4
2017 RECAP: There is no rider in the PBR that should kick himself more when it comes to 2017 than Derek Kolbaba.
Kolbaba finished off a career-best season only 447.5 points behind 2017 World Champion Jess Lockwood and a couple of additional rides could have likely been the difference.
The Walla Walla, Washington, cowboy led the PBR with five event wins in the regular season and also was a career-best 30-for-87, but he also went rideless in 11 of 27 PBR Premier Series events. Kolbaba also went 0-for-10 in the 15/15 Bucking Battles. Most of all, his 1-for-17 start to the second half of the season played a big role in his ultimate shortcomings.
2017 was still Kolbaba’s breakout season, though.
His five event wins, three of which came in the final two months of the season, and 90-point rides aboard two-time World Champion SweetPro’s Bruiser appear to be a bigger indicator of the 21-year-old’s potential rather than his 34.48-percent riding average.
2018 OUTLOOK: There is a general belief among PBR insiders that Kolbaba will once again be in the mix for a World Championship.
Two-time World Champion Justin McBride believes Kolbaba is capable of more in 2018 and that 2017 was a step in the right direction.
“I think that is Derek, but like Jess (Lockwood), he is still not as good as he can get. There is a lot of room for improvement and when it is right, he is really good. He still makes those little mistakes and makes them over and over and over again.”
McBride said the biggest mistake Kolbaba continuously makes is one that he made early in his own career.
“First and foremost, he has to always pull his bull rope tight enough,” McBride said. “That is bull riding 101. It has to be tight enough and it won’t roll down their back. I feel bad saying it because I made that mistake a lot until later in my career. He has to do that. A lot of times when you see him get bucked off, it is his bull rope being loose causing it. If he can start with that each and every time, that is going to take care of a lot of the little issues that pop up for Kolbaba.”
McBride got to spend more time with Kolbaba during the PBR Global Cup and said he could tell Kolbaba was ready to move on to 2018.
Kolbaba rode Stars and Stripes for 86.5 and 86 points in Edmonton, and then finished in fifth-place a week later the New Town, North Dakota, Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event.
He is 3-for-5 since the World Finals.
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said Kolbaba could be “dangerous” in 2018 now that he has developed a greater confidence following the best season of his career.
“Derek is going to be very dangerous because I am not sure he realized how good he was,” Lambert said. “I know Derek knew he was a good bull rider, but I don’t know he knew he was supposed to be in the hunt for a World Championship, and now I think he does.
Now he expects to win it and he should. The World Champion should expect to be a World Champion. He shouldn’t be surprised he is the World Champion.”
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