By: Justin Felisko
May 16, 2016
LAS VEGAS – Cody Heffernan took a brief pit stop from his dominating push to win the 2016 PBR Australia championship this past weekend to compete at Last Cowboy Standing.
However, it won’t be long before the No. 1 ranked bull rider in PBR Australia returns to the Built Ford Tough Series full time as he tries to make a push to qualify for the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Heffernan hadn’t competed on the BFTS since this past February before he was bucked oDff by BootDaddy.com in 7.54 seconds in Round 1.
The Singleton, Australia, bull rider had returned home to finish a mission he set out to complete earlier this year. Heffernan turned down opportunities to compete on the BFTS during the first half despite being ranked inside the Top 35 because he had still yet to win a PBR Australia title.
Some questioned the 26-year-old’s decision, which Heffernan understood, but he grew up always dreaming of one day being a PBR Australia champion.
“They just don’t understand the way I see it,” Heffernan said. “I see it that I am 26 and I believe I have been at least a Top-5 bull rider since I have been 18, but I have nothing to show for it. I have never won a title. That is why this means so much to me because I believe I should have won one by now.”
Heffernan finished fourth in the 2015 PBR Australia standings after qualifying for the College National Finals in the United States in 2013 and 2014.
His decision to return to Australia during the first half wasn’t a matter of Heffernan being intimidated by the United States, its rider or the rankest bulls in the world. In fact, Heffernan’s decision to stay committed to finishing his childhood dream has also been a demonstration of his confidence in himself as a rider.
“I was gaining a lot of points and I did kind of treat the first half as bit of a way to test (the BFTS) out,” Heffernan said. “My first event in Chicago and New York, it wasn’t like I was blown away by everything. All of the big name guys, the bulls, the lights, cameras and all of that. I just wasn’t blown away. Mentally, I was calm and knew I could be here and compete. It didn’t faze me.”
Heffernan had competed in the United States before, qualifying for the College National Finals Rodeo in 2013 and 2014. He finished 2014 sixth at the CNFR. The right-handed bull rider returned home last year to try and win the PBR Australia championship after failing to land a spot on the BFTS, but came up short in that pursuit, finishing fourth.
This year he was ranked 21st in the world standings before leaving the United States following the Bass Pro Chute Out in St. Louis on Feb. 20.
Eight days later, Heffernan won his first PBR Australia event in his return by going 2-for-2 in Marrabel.
Heffernan has won five PBR Australia events this season. He is 18-for-41 (43.9 percent) in 14 PBR Australia events that counted toward the 2016 world standings.
He is 28th in the world standings, in large part to the 275 world points he earned in Australia. In regards to his PBR Australia championship push, Heffernan leads No. 2 Justin Paton by 2,822.5 points.
Points riders earn at BFTS events don’t count toward the PBR Australia standings.
“I went back in February and won an event and have placed a lot,” he said. “I increased my lead and I will go home and increase the lead some more before the Finals.
The PBR Australia National Finals take place July 23.
“I want to get this title won and then things will be different next year,” Heffernan said. “Next year I won’t go back home as much. I do want to win more Australian titles, but I am not going to miss out on BFTS events anymore.”
Heffernan plans on returning to the United States this season at the end of July or early August to turn his attention toward earning his first World Finals qualification.
If he fails to finish the regular season within the Top 35, he also will have an opportunity to win the international wild card spot for the World Finals during the BlueDEF Tour Finals on Oct. 29-31 in Las Vegas.
“We have five events left including the Finals in July,” Heffernan said. “I will come back in July or early August and do some BlueDEF and Touring Pros before the Built Ford Toughs and get as high in the standings as I can.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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