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 Eduardo Aparecido, who finished the 2017 Premier Series fourth in the world standings.
No. 4 Eduardo Aparecido
World Championships: 0
Best World Standings Finish: fourth (2017)
2017 Premier Series Stats:
Riding Percentage: 51.16 percent
Top Ride: 91.25 points on Speed Demon (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Wins: 3 (Iron Cowboy; Jacksonville, Florida; Kansas City, Missouri)
15/15 Bucking Battle Victories: 2 (Thackerville, Oklahoma; Sacramento, California)
Round Wins: 7
Top 10: 14
Top 5: 9
90-point Rides: 3
2017 RECAP: No one spent as much time in the world No. 1 ranking in 2017 as Eduardo Aparecido and his six-month reign. No rider had more qualified rides (44) than Eduardo Aparecido. No one had as high of a riding percentage as Eduardo Aparecido.
Yet none of that matters now.
Aparecido could not cap off a career-year with a World Championship after a 2-for-5 performance at the World Finals resulted in him finishing third in the title race, 663.34 points behind Jess Lockwood.
The 27-year-old had previously increased his world lead to 365 points with back-to-back third-place finishes in Uniondale, New York, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, Aparecido went 4-for-8 for only 57.5 world points in the final three regular-season events.
Regardless, Aparecido took a big step forward in the fifth year of his PBR career.
Aparecido set career-highs in event wins (3), including his first PBR Major victory (Iron Cowboy), 15/15 Bucking Battle victories (2) and 90-point rides (3) to go along with his 44 rides and 51.15-percent riding average.
He also had the most Top-5 finishes (9) among the Top-5 riders in the world.
Most of all, Aparecido began to have the mental confidence that he truly could be a World Champion.
2018 OUTLOOK: Eduardo Aparecido has a 47.5-percent career riding average on the PBR Premier Series and has finished inside the Top 10 of the world standings in all but one year of his career. Still, Aparecido isn’t viewed consistently as a World Champion contender.
However, last year Aparecido had a breakthrough season and reached the top of the world standings for the first time in his career. Statistically, Aparecido has posted 41 and 44 qualified rides on the Premier Series each of the last two years, but it was the mental confidence he developed in 2017 that may result in him once again being in the world title conversation.
“I think he will be a Top 10 guy and he will have a chance,” said two-time World Champion and CBS Sports analyst Justin McBride. “Eduardo can ride. He will just have to put it together when it counts, believe himself and get the job done. There is no reason he shouldn’t be in the conversation.”
The turning point for Aparecido in 2017 was when he won Iron Cowboy in February, and it may take another big victory or event win to keep Aparecido in the 2018 hunt.
All three of his event victories came within a four-week period at the end of February and the beginning of March. Those three wins kept him in the title conversation all year long, while he continuously made the 8-second mark.
Aparecido failed to win any events in the second half of the season outside of a 15/15 Bucking Battle victory in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
McBride added that Aparecido, as well as Derek Kolbaba, who was streaky amidst his 2017 world title run, may not need a victory in the first couple of the months of the season, but they certainly can’t afford to go 0-for-5 in New York.
“I don’t know if they need a win, but they need to ride their bulls,” McBride said. “They need to be making championship rounds and getting the job done. They don’t need to show up and go 0-for-4 in New York. They need to be in contention for a win. To me, they should be in contention every week. They will buck off one, but the trick is don’t buck off another one. You can really consistently place high on two out of 3 bulls.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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