PUEBLO, Colo. – Jess Lockwood has ridden bulls before in the blistering cold and snowy conditions growing up in Montana, so temperatures in the upper 30s and some rain weren’t going to slow him down Saturday in Del Rio, Texas.
“This honestly isn’t too bad,” Lockwood told CBS Sports Kate Harrison. “When you have ridden in blizzards before high school rodeoing in the spring, it will make you a little tough.”
The two-time World Champion finished Round 1 of the PBR Built Ford Tough Invitational tied for third place with an 87-point ride on Skull Crusher. He was making his return to competition for the first time since breaking his jaw at the season-opener in Ocala, Florida.
“This is by far the easiest (injury to come back from). It is just my mouth,” Lockwood said. “You don’t need your mouth to ride bulls. Whereas groins and hamstrings and hands, any of that can get in the way. I have braces on now, and I put rubber bands to keep my jaw in place during the day, but when I ride, I just take them off and put that mouthpiece in and go to work.”
Lockwood tied with Keyshawn Whitehorse for third place after Whitehorse rode Cherry Bomb for 87 points.
Lockwood was injured on his first bull of the 2021 season when he took a horn to the face from Detroit Lean during Round 1 of the PBR Monster Energy Invitational on Jan. 16 after he was bucked off in 2.75 seconds. He underwent surgery on Jan. 22, and he had missed the last two UTB events.
In Del Rio, Lockwood picked up right where he expected to in Ocala, picking up his first world points of the season.
The 23-year-old’s third-place finish net him 16.5 points to move him to No. 34 in the world standings. He is 310 points behind current world No. 1 Cooper Davis, who was bucked off by House Mouse in 5.10 seconds but rode Born To Sin for 90 points to win the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
“That was a lot of poise and concentration by Jess Lockwood not to get rattled by the start (he and Skull Crusher) had,” two-time World Champion and CBS Sports analyst Justin McBride said. “He couldn’t have started any better coming back from injury. That is exactly what Lockwood wanted to do right there.”
Three-time World Champion Silvano Alves (86 points on Breadbasket) and Dener Barbosa (84.75 points on Hurts So Good) were the only riders in the Top 10 of the world standings to earn a score Saturday at the Val Verde County Fairgrounds.
Fans can watch the conclusion of the Built Ford Tough Invitational on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on RidePass and 8 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
Rafael Henrique dos Santos won Round 1 with 89.5 points on Mike’s Motive. There were seven qualified rides in Round 1.
Lockwood said before his ride that he had no hesitations in his comeback.
“I have had worse wrecks than that,” Lockwood said to Harrison. “Getting hit in the face is just part of it. Sometimes you get hit in the face, and you continue to ride, and you make a ride. That is something that doesn’t bother me whatsoever.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media