By: Justin Felisko
August 29, 2016
TULSA, Okla. – Cody Heffernan made true on his goal of winning the 2016 PBR Australia championship earlier this summer. Now, the 26-year-old rookie has his sights set on turning the next corner in his career and build momentum toward PBR Finals Week.
“That’s been a goal since I was 6,” Heffernan said at this weekend’s Express Employment Professionals Classic, presented by Osage Casino. “I wanted to be an Australian champion, but I also wanted to be a World Champion.”
Heffernan was close to dominant in Australia with six victories and an additional five Top-5 finishes. He went 26-for-61 (42.62 percent) and had 18 Top-10 finishes.
“I led it from start to finish,” Heffernan said. “It was a good learning experience to be so far out in front and continue with that all season long. I had done that the whole season. It was a good building block. It is not going for a world title, but I was still going for an Australian title and there was a lot of pressure there.
“This was my year to do it.”
Fellow Australian and Built Ford Tough Series rider Kurt Shephard said kids growing up in Australia dream about one day being a PBR Australia champion.
“It is the biggest deal you can win back home,” Shephard said. “There is nothing that beats it back home really. My goals are over here, but I would love to win a PBR Australia title. It is definitely a goal for the future one day.”
Shephard then added there was no questioning who the top Australian bull rider in their native land was this season.
“I have known him for the last three years and oh, freaking hell he was unstoppable this year back home, especially the first half of the season,” Shephard said. “He was winning everything.”
With the PBR Australia mission accomplished, Heffernan is hoping he can finish the Built Ford Tough Series strong and come through on another goal he set before the season.
Heffernan’s goal was to finish at least 22nd in the world standings after finishing 44th in 2015.
“Well, I guess I have to set my goals again, and, realistically, I can still be within the Top 15,” Heffernan said. “I think I said at the start of the year that I would be content with 22 because I finished 44 last year. The goal is to be inside the Top 15 right now. I have to focus on that and make that my goal.”
Heffernan knows to make that goal a true possibility then he has to become more consistent on the BFTS. Heffernan is 5-for-24 (20.83 percent) in nine BFTS events.
He next competes at the Winstar World Casino and Resort Invitational on Saturday and Sunday in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
“I need to pick up my riding a bit,” Heffernan said. “I am not real consistent. I didn’t finish off that Australian season to good. I was two for my last nine. It is hard when you are not riding the bulls back there to come over here. If you are riding smoking hot over there and riding everything, you come over here with a bunch of confidence. Then it is real easy. It is hard to come over and try to fix it once you are here because you are getting on the best bulls in the world.”
Heffernan returned to the United States two weeks ago for the Music City Knockout and admitted he was a little jetlagged from flying directly to Nashville. He also gained a few pounds in Australia and has begun taking hot yoga classes with Fraser Babbington in hopes of getting in better shape for the stretch run to the Finals.
Heffernan, who says the Warrior pose is his yoga favorite, weighs 148 pounds and would prefer to be closer to 140.
“This is actually the heaviest I have weighed,” Heffernan said. “I am not sure if that has anything to do with (my consistency). I have always tried to look after my body in terms of the fitness side of things. I have always been interested in yoga, but I have never went and done it.”
Along with hopefully qualifying for his first Built Ford Tough World Finals, Heffernan is excited to represent his country at the BlueDEF Tour Finals on Oct. 29-31 at the South Point Arena as the PBR Australia invite.
The top finishing international invitee is eligible to win one of five PBR Wild Cards available for the World Finals.
“It is a big thing to represent my country, and do well there, and get the invite to the World Finals,” he concluded. “Hopefully, I can make the World Finals before.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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