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 Jess Lockwood, the reigning World Champion.
No. 1 Jess Lockwood
World Championships: 1
Best World Standings Finish: 1 (2017)
2017 Premier Series Stats:
Riding Percentage: 43.75 percent
Top Ride: 90.25 points on BC Circular Insanity, More Big Bucks, Big Dutch and Luke
Wins: 4 (New York; Sacramento, California; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Austin, Texas)
15/15 Bucking Battle Victories: 0
Round Wins: 9
Top 10: 8
Top 5: 6
90-point Rides: 6
2017 RECAP: Jess Lockwood overcame a multitude of injuries in 2017 to win an unthinkable World Championship despite being able to only compete in 20 Premier Series events, the fewest by any champion since at least 1999.
Lockwood – the youngest World Champion in PBR history – began the year with a bang by winning the PBR Major in New York. He held onto the No. 1 world ranking before a torn groin at Iron Cowboy a month later coincided with Eduardo Aparecido surpassing him for the top spot.
The Volborg, Montana, bull rider missed five weeks because of the groin tear and later finished the first half fourth in the world standings and 865 points out of the world No. 1 ranking.
Lockwood stormed back into the title race by winning the second-half opener in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with an 89.25-point ride on Find Jesus.
A month later, Lockwood bounced back from being knocked out by SweetPro’s Bruiser in Springfield, Missouri, to win the Austin, Texas, event a week later.
None of that though stacked up with his comeback from multiple injuries in Uniondale, New York, which really exemplified his World Championship season.
Lockwood broke four ribs, punctured a lung and lacerated a kidney attempting to ride Blue Magic in September and was forced to spend 30 hours in a Long Island hospital.
He returned in only three weeks, but bucked off his final four bulls of the regular-season.
Lockwood responded by going 3-for-4 at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals and won the first three rounds of the PBR World Finals – a PBR record – to overcome a 655-point deficit and win the World Championship.
The 2016 Rookie of the Year finished 2017 28-for-64 (43.75 percent) with four event victories. He was able to overcome having the lowest riding percentage for any World Champion by making it count the most when he made the whistle. Nineteen of his 28 qualified rides resulted in him finishing in the Top 5 of a BFTS round.
Lockwood won nine BFTS rounds and was 8-for-15 in championship rounds / 15-15 Bucking Battles.
2018 OUTLOOK: Jess Lockwood will look to accomplish what no defending champion other than Silvano Alves has done in the PBR’s 25-year history.
Alves is the only back-to-back World Champion so far, but the last two World Champions – Cooper Davis and J.B. Mauney – nearly pulled off the feat and finished third in their defending seasons.
There is a general belief among bull riding insiders that Lockwood has still yet to reach his full potential and is primed for another run.
Two-time World Champion Justin McBride believes that if Lockwood could win the 2017 world title without being at his best then what is going to stop him from pursuing another title in 2018?
“He has a good shot to go back to back because I don’t think you will see that contentment out of Jess,” McBride said. “You are not going to see him be satisfied with this. He won it young enough, and he has so much room to improve, that this shouldn’t feel like the top of the mountain to him. This should feel like he is rounding first base.”
If he were to win a second gold buckle, Lockwood would become the youngest two-time World Champion in PBR history.
Lockwood returned to PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert’s ranch, where he lives part-time during the year, at the end of December before heading to New York for the season-opener.
He attempted a practice bull of J.W. Hart’s at Lambert’s last weekend and he chatted some with Lambert about the upcoming season.
“You can argue that it was one of the worst years, or it was absolutely the best year because he had more injuries, missed more events and placed in more short rounds and his point-winning percentage for qualified rides may be higher than anybody’s has ever been,” Lambert said. “Every bull that Jess gets on has his very best day, that is why he wins so many go rounds and places in so many go rounds.
Lambert said that Lockwood appears to be in even better physical shape heading into the season then he was in 2017.
Most of all, though, Lambert believes that it appears that Lockwood has remained humble since winning a gold buckle.
“It doesn’t feel like anything has changed yet,” Lambert said. “There is so much stuff that goes into it. It comes down to how bad you still want it. That is the thing you have wanted all your life. There has to be a sigh of relief when you get it. He is a little different from some of those guys because he is closer to Cooper (Davis). He is not near miss after near miss before he finally won one.
“He is trying very hard to stay down to earth. He is pretty humbled about it.”
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