By: Justin Felisko
April 28, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Cooper Davis rolled over in his bed at his Jasper, Texas, home last November to reach for his silver iPhone 6 and start scrolling through emails.
Even though he remembered winning the 2015 World Finals event title a few weeks earlier, seeing an email notification about a $292,500 deposit into his bank account was still dumbfounding.
“The big moment though was seeing that deposit,” Davis said. “I think it was two weeks. I didn’t really know what to expect or how long it would take. I just kind of woke up one morning to check my emails and I was like, ‘Oh man, today is a good day.’
“That was probably the come too moment right there.”
The next week Davis paid off his house and the rest of his bills. Thanks to a 4-for-6 performance at the Finals, he was completely debt free at only 21 years old.
“That was pretty surreal,” he said.
The second-year pro is returning to Las Vegas in two weeks for Last Cowboy Standing, the headliner for Las Vegas Helldorado Days, and will look to continue his trend of success in the Sin City.
“If we can have the same success we had last time, we would be pretty happy,” Davis said. “I think when you get in front of something so prestigious as the Finals and being in a setting like Vegas, it is a little bit more eye opening and gets my blood flowing; I just obviously seem comfortable and ready to go there.”
It isn’t a gamble, but rather a safe bet Davis, only the fourth rookie to ever win the World Finals event title, can contend for his first regular-season victory at the final PBR Major of the first half.
Davis stormed onto the rodeo scene in 2013 when he went 4-for-10 in Las Vegas to finish sixth at the National Finals Rodeo and sixth in the PRCA bull riding standings. He won Round 10 with an 84-point ride on Palace Station John Doe and was crowned the 2013 PRCA Rookie of the Year.
Last year, Davis went 1-for-2 at Last Cowboy Standing with an 87-point ride on Heavy Dose for a seventh-place finish.
Just two weeks ago Davis came close to that elusive first BFTS regular-season event win.
He was 2-for-2 in Des Moines, Iowa, before being bucked off by Little Red Jacket in 6.47 seconds during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round after entering the final round of competition second in the event average behind Joao Ricardo Vieira.
It was the second consecutive week where Davis was in a position to win his first regular-season event before failing to finish the job in the championship round.
Davis was leading the event two weeks ago in Billings, Montana, after beginning the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational with three consecutive long-round rides.
He couldn’t finish, though, and was bucked off by Legal Tender in 4.38 seconds during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
The 22-year-old finished in fourth place in Des Moines and third place in Billings. He has five Top-5 finishes in 2016.
He is 19-for-44 (43.18 percent) and ranked 11th in the world standings. Davis only needs six more rides to surpass his career-high of 19 which he set last year. He’s been on a roll despite missing the first two events of 2016 because of offseason wrist surgery.
“Cooper Davis is a guy that is really stepping up,” two-time World Champion Justin McBride said. “I am really impressed with the young guys. I thought Cooper rode outstanding all weekend long. It is going to be a great season.”
Davis had finished a career-high second at the 2015 Des Moines Invitational.
All that matters at Last Cowboy Standing is making the 8-second mark, where one buckoff can end a rider’s weekend early. Make 8 seconds and you keep yourself in the mix for a $100,000 payday and at least 625 points toward the world standings.
“It is do or die type of situation. It doesn’t hurt to have them every now and then,” Davis said about the unique formats of BFTS Majors. “I like them a hell of a lot better than going head-to-head against someone. If you do your part, you are going to get paid basically. I don’t have a problem with it.”
Helldorado Days is also the first of two outdoor BFTS events on the 2016 calendar. The open air presents riders a chance to compete in an old-school rodeo feel compared to the modern arenas they usually see on tour.
“We get spoiled going to these air conditioned venues every weekend,” Davis added. “Going back to the old days and sitting outside where your rope gets a little stickier. You kind of go back to the roots of the sport and it makes it little bit more unique for us. I like Thackerville (Oklahoma) and I like Vegas. I don’t have any complaints about going back outside, I kind of prefer it.”
Despite coming close, Davis understands one World Finals event victory and one memorable 91.5-point ride on Crossfire doesn’t make a successful season.
He plans on being more than just a one-hit wonder.
“The only thing I have won is the Finals,” Davis said. “I have placed second a few times at these. I go into every weekend trying to win. The next best thing would be a Major.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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