By: Justin Felisko
March 12, 2018
DULUTH, Ga. – 2016 PBR World Champion Cooper Davis’s right ring finger is still causing him fits since he first injured it in Chicago two months ago, but now his confidence in his abilities is deteriorating.
Davis is 1-for-13 in his last six events after partially tearing a ligament in the finger during his 83.5-point ride on Uncle Tink at the Chicago Invitational.
The 23-year-old has decided to take the next two weeks off after going 0-for-2 this past weekend at the Duluth Invitational, which extended his buckoff streak to 10 on the 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast.
“It is getting to where it is a mental deal,” Davis said Sunday afternoon. “I get in there and I know it is going to hurt. Once I slide up on my rope, it starts getting aggravated. It is more frustrating than anything. It is a dang finger.”
The No. 7 ranked bull rider in the world expects to miss the Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico, next weekend, and most likely the Ak-Chin Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, in Glendale, Arizona.
“Hopefully after being off four weeks it will be better,” Davis added. “It is only two events. Easter we get a break. The fourth week I will be back and hopefully be 100 percent.”
Davis did have success at The American by riding Honey Hush for 89.25 points and Shownuff for 89.5 points. Other than those two rides, is has been slim pickings for the fourth-year pro.
The Jasper, Texas, native explained that the injury is not a pain threshold issue, but it is more so a nuisance that is causing him to develop bad habits and tendencies on the back of a bull.
Instead of sticking to the fundamentals, he has noticed himself trying to make small adjustments to compensate for the injury.
He has lost his confidence.
“Right now, I can get through the pain,” Davis said. “The pain doesn’t bother me as much as it is affecting my riding. If I am here showing up every week, I have to expect to win. If I feel like this, I don’t expect to win.”
The injury may seem so minor, but the finger and his hand plays such an important role in making the 8-second mark.
Davis agreed it is the most frustrating injury of his life.
“For sure. It is a dang finger,” he said in disgust. “It is not like it is a shoulder or a leg. The one thing that keeps you tied to them, and it is what he is jerking on you 99 percent of the time. It is hard to keep your hand closed and your mind focused when that is the one thing keeping you stuck to them.”
Davis hopes to attend physical therapy the next couple of weeks to try and regain flexibility and movement in his hand.
The hand has continued to get stiffer since he first returned to competition following a two-week layoff in the middle of February.
“Tandy (Freeman) is going to give me some physical therapy options near Houston or Beaumont (Texas) to try and get some mobility back in it because it has gotten to where I don’t open or close it really good. I am only 23 so it is kind of early to be having that problem.”
Davis is only 850 points behind world leader Ramon de Lima after originally holding an 80-point lead atop the standings after winning the Chicago Invitational.
The good news for Davis is that he is not the only rider in the Top 10 dealing with an injury. Davis is one of four riders inside the Top 10 of the world standings that have missed multiple events this year.
World No. 4 Dener Barbosa – the latest to fall victim to the Top 10 injury curse – was in Dallas Monday getting further evaluation on his broken right foot.
Barbosa told PBR.com he was still awaiting determination on if he needed surgery after X-rays revealed two broken bones in his right foot on Monday morning. Dr. Tandy Freeman has referred him to a foot specialist.
No. 9 Ryan Dirteater had missed four weeks because of fractured ribs, but he returned in Duluth with a 2-for-3 showing.
Meanwhile, No. 10 Derek Kolbaba is waiting another week to determine whether or not he needs surgery for his torn right ACL/MCL.
“That helps with other guys being out,” Davis concluded. “I am not saying I am glad they are out, but as far as winning a world title. I still have time. I am wishing I would have (sat out longer) when it first happened instead of going through this and getting down.
“I feel like I can’t ride for worth a crap right now.”
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