LAS VEGAS – Cooper Davis was heated following his Round 2 buckoff against Smooth Operator, but the reigning World Champion knows he can’t let his emotions get the best of him once his head hits the pillow on Thursday night and he returns to T-Mobile Arena Friday.
The No. 4 rider in the world standings is still only 306.67 points behind world leader Jess Lockwood, who won his second consecutive round this week with 89.75 points on Breaking Bad.
“It is close, but there is not a whole lot of time left and a whole lot of room for error,” Davis said. “It is just frustrating right now because I know I am riding good right now and it is nothing I am doing wrong. It is just the fact things didn’t fall the way they were supposed to and didn’t go the way they were planned.”
The good news for Davis is it was only a year ago that Davis bounced back from a Round 2 buckoff (3.12 seconds on David’s Dream) to ride three consecutive bulls and win the 2016 championship.
“They got me pissed off now so we might as well bounce back and stay on the rest of them,” Davis said. “I don’t mind getting bucked off, but I sure don’t like getting ran off one like that.”
Smooth Operator had a terrible day in Round 2 and was only marked 34.75 points. However, Davis slapped the bull at 4.92 seconds and was unable to be given a re-ride.
A round win by Davis in Round 3 aboard Blue Stone, and a buckoff from Jess Lockwood, would put Davis right back on the cusp of the world lead.
Davis is still very much alive in the world title race, but last year he was only 60.33 points behind then world leader Kaique Pacheco.
The Jasper, Texas, bull rider is sitting in 17th place in the event heading into Round 3
Blue Stone is making his BFTS debut, but Davis is familiar with the Canadian bull after watching Lockwood win a round aboard Blue Stone with a 90.5-point ride at the Calgary Stampede this summer.
Davis picked him with the 21st selection of the Round 3 bull draft.
“From the videos I have seen, I know he is a good bull and I think he was something everybody didn’t know,” Davis said. “Pretty much everything was getting down to either you don’t know or they aren’t fun to get by.”
Lockwood was the one-and-only world title contender to strike on Thursday night as Derek Kolbaba (4.09 seconds on Hy Test), Eduardo Aparecido (4.51 seconds on Freak of Nature), Kaique Pacheco (4.04 seconds on Joe Blow) and Davis all bucked off.
The red-hot, 20-year-old won his second round in as many nights by handling an explosive Breaking Bad for 89.75 points and 300 world points.
“I knew if he was in this pen, he was going to buck hard,” Lockwood said. “So I knew he was going to have a hard rank corner and if you got past that he would be good.”
He expects his challengers to come back with a vengeance in Round 3.
“Yeah, those guys, no one likes bucking off,” Lockwood said. “They are going to come back with some revenge and they all should. I better stay on my bulls.”
Lockwood selected More Big Bucks with the top pick of the draft after consulting with PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert.
The Volborg, Montana, bull rider is a perfect 2-for-2 against More Big Bucks with two 90-point rides.
“You don’t get any better than that bull,” Lockwood said. “He blows up and spins to the left. He may go back to the right at the end, but you don’t get any more feeling better than him.”
Lockwood surpassed Kolbaba for the world lead after Kolbaba was bucked off by Hy Test.
“He just kind of pulled me in there and he fades pretty good and I kind of moved over there more so than anything and didn’t ride him like I should,” Kolbaba said.
Kolbaba decided to accept a re-ride after previously covering Cracker Breaker for 75 points.
“Well, you have to come here to win,” Kolbaba said. “It is not like the re-ride wasn’t any good. Maybe it will (screw) me in the end, but right now I am going to go on to the next one and make it count.
“It dang sure fires me up right now so we are going to get right after them.”
Kolbaba drafted Biker Bob with 19th pick of the draft and trails Lockwood by 22.5 points.
“There really wasn’t a whole lot left to pick,” Kolbaba said. “It should work. It really depends. I don’t know what he does really.”
Meanwhile, Aparecido and Pacheco are up against the wall following another round of buckoffs.
The last nine World Champions have not bucked off their first two bulls at the World Finals. 2007 World Champion Justin McBride bucked off his first three, but he had began the Finals as the No. 1 bull rider in the world.
However, both riders possibly lucked out in the draft and selected favorable rematches for Round 3
Aparecido selected Oscar P (11-2, BFTS) with the 18th pick, and Pacheco decided on a rematch against Wicked Stick (16-4, BFTS) with the 20th selection. Aparecido rode Oscar P for 85 points on his way to the 2017 Iron Cowboy championship and Pacheco covered Wicked Stick for 86.75 points in Bilings, Montana.
Lockwood takes over the world lead for the first time since losing the No. 1 ranking during February’s Iron Cowboy event in Arlington, Texas.
After battling broken ribs for the last month, Lockwood believes he is now the healthiest he has been since the second-half began in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in August.
“I like to think when I am healthy I am one of the best, and it seems that way when I am healthy,” Lockwood said.
Lockwood could have been complacent following his Round 1 victory, but he instead has kept the foot on the gas pedal.
“This world title race is six bulls deep, so that round win wasn’t going to do me much,” Lockwood concluded. “So I better keep winning rounds and placing high in the average.”