PUEBLO, Colo. – It may have taken him 435 days, but Cooper Davis has finally regained the world No. 1 ranking for the first time since walking out of T-Mobile Arena on November 6, 2016, as the 2016 World Champion.
It is almost too fitting that Davis sits atop of the world standings now after riding Catfish John – the same bull he rode to clinch the 2016 world title – for 91.25 points on Sunday to win the Chicago Invitational.
Davis’ win was the sixth victory of his four-year career, but this one had a different feel to it than many of his others.
This win in Chicago was an expected one for the 23-year-old.
Davis just seemed poised to win the event from start to finish.
After coming up 579.19 points short of repeating as World Champion last year, Davis made it a vehement goal to start fast in 2018.
He has done just that and could even of had a massive lead atop the world standings if he didn’t stub his toe in New York and buck off All the Way Up (6.89 seconds) in Round 3 after heading into Championship Sunday leading the event.
“I am trying to stay a man of my word,” Davis said. “Now I keep doing it. Don’t change a thing. Hopefully at the end of the year we will be on the podium again.”
In Chicago, Davis did not take his foot off the gas pedal. He opened things up with an 87.25-point ride on Luke to split the Round 1 victory with Joao Ricardo Vieira.
Davis has won the first round in each of the first two events of the season.
He then rode Uncle Tink for 83.25 points in Round 2 to earn the second pick of the championship-round draft.
Davis earned 580 points toward the world standings, and he leads No. 2 Gage Gay by 80 points heading into the Express Employment Professionals Invitational Saturday night in Oklahoma City.
“I just need to start it a lot better than I did last year because it took me half of season to get any momentum built up,” Davis said. “I don’t feel like I have all of the pressure and expectation.”
Davis is 5-for-8 through the first two events with a PBR-best three round wins.
The Jasper, Texas, cowboy explained in New York that he was “disgusted” with not having the determination and drive needed to win a world title during the 2017 first half.
“I pretty much won everything, but losing will put things in perspective sometimes and it just wasn’t fun,” Davis said. “People say if you win every time, then you wouldn’t have anything to look forward to and that is kind of where I was. Not that I won every time I nodded my head, but dang ‘Where do I go from here?’
“It just wasn’t fun after I won because I never had been good at interviews. I didn’t enjoy being in the spotlight. When all of that took place, it wasn’t what I imagined.”
Coming so close to a second world title was no fun for him.
Davis knows he left a world title on the table in 2017 and that certainly has him motivated this year.
“I am not a good loser, but I don’t think anybody in this sport is,” Davis added. “You just have to learn from it.”
The change of attitude has been apparent in Davis.
He has been loose and cool in the locker room and on the back of the bucking chutes. His confidence in his rides in the arena has now accompanied him outside of the arena.
2009 Ring of Honor inductee J.W. Hart noticed it even before the season started.
“Failure doesn’t sit well with him,” Hart said. “He has a new burning fire to do it again. After seeing the Finals he had, and seeing his attitude at the Global Cup, it excites me for this year. Last year, he had the hangover of a world title. He didn’t know what he wanted to do and he got a taste of his butt getting kicked and didn’t like it. He then late-season grew a new form and desire to win again. It wasn’t too late, but he just didn’t perform at the Finals like he should because he was in the running and could have made it happen.”
Reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger called Davis “the best guy in the world” on Sunday afternoon.
“He is on a mission,” Berger said. “Barring an injury, I don’t think they can stop him. I think he is above the rest at this point in the game. Even at the end of last year he was. He just drew bad at the Finals. I was part of the blame there. Next time he gets on Smooth Operator he will be 95.”
Smooth Operator was switched to a right-hand delivery in Chicago and responded with a 45.75-point bull score after bucking off Fabiano Vieira in 5.19 seconds.
It wouldn’t be an uncommon trend for Davis to win the world title this year. In fact, two of the PBR’s five World Champions with multiple gold buckles did so in a three-year span. J.B. Mauney won the 2013 and 2015 titles, while Justin McBride split his championships between 2005 and 2007.
Davis was only able to get to within 197 points of the world lead last year, but it took him just two events to finally get himself atop of the 2018 world standings.
Now how long will he stay there?
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