By: Justin Felisko
June 22, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Chase Outlaw made a confident statement right before he made his season debut in Uvalde, Texas, following a six-month recovery from reconstructive left shoulder surgery (torn labrum/rotator cuff) after the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Outlaw said he would be at the 2016 World Finals on Nov. 2-6.
And no, he didn’t mean as a spectator.
The Hamburg, Arkansas, bull rider was adamant he would have enough time to use the summer BlueDEF Tour and Touring Pro Division events, as well as eight guaranteed second half Built Ford Tough Series injury exemptions, to gather enough points to crack the Top 35 of the world standings and qualify for his fifth-consecutive Finals.
It seemed like a bold statement in late May, but Outlaw has backed up his word with a ferocious start to the 2016 summer that has a Finals berth looking more and more probable.
Outlaw won his second event back at the PBR Canada Swift Current Invitational and recently earned the victory at the 16th annual Dakota Community Bank and Trust BlueDEF Tour event by going 2-for-2.
A week before Bismarck, Outlaw had gone 3-for-3 to finish second at the Deadwood, South Dakota, Touring Pro Division event.
All and all, Outlaw has gone 7-for-14 in seven non-BFTS events so far this summer.
“Taking six months off and not coming back until summer break, yeah I have been sitting at home saying I will be at the World Finals,” Outlaw said this weekend after winning in Bismarck. “If you don’t believe in yourself, then you have nothing because there ain’t nobody else riding them bulls for you. I believe in myself and my ability and that will take care of it itself.”
Outlaw earned the victory in Bismarck by riding Modified Clyde for 90.5 points during the championship round. The ride was his first 90-point effort at any level of competition since riding Crack the Whip for 90.75 points in January 2015.
Modified Clyde had bucked off Outlaw in four consecutive matchups.
“It always feels good when you are going for revenge on one,” Outlaw said. “When they are having a bull riding like this where they are riding everything. Hell the fans loved it. That is what a show should do.”
The ride left Chad Berger thinking this is the best he has seen Outlaw ever ride, especially after watching him cover Yesterday’s Wine for 88.5 points in Round 1 and Redbone for 88.5 points in Deadwood.
“I had seen him in Deadwood and I had seen him here,” Berger said. “He also has been tearing it up in Canada. From what I have seen the last two weeks, Chase Outlaw is riding better than he ever rode in his career. Look out for Chase Outlaw. Heck, I don’t know how many points he has racked up this summer, but he is vying to make the Finals this year.”
Outlaw has earned 175 points in one month and is ranked 51st in the world standings. He is already only just 120 points behind No. 35 Marco Eguchi.
Longtime friend Reese Cates has no doubts Outlaw will be nodding his head at the first World Finals at the state-of-the-art T-Mobile Arena later this year after seeing how strong he rode in Canada.
“Chase has been tearing them up,” Cates said. “He has always done really, really well up there. He has won enough money up there that he should buy a place. There is something about it that always seems to fuel his fire. He looks like his old self. I look forward to him have a strong comeback come August once the Built Ford Tough starts up.”
Twenty-four hours earlier, Outlaw was getting 10 stitches on his chin after getting rocketed by Siouxper Stinger in 1.81 seconds.
“Get knocked out and go to the hospital for stitches. Come back today with the same attitude as when I walked in here yesterday before the bull riding,” Outlaw said. “That is just one of those deals you have to block out. Onto the next one.”
Anyone that knows Outlaw isn’t surprised that he would bounce back from being popped in the face. Nor were they surprised by his determination to come back from multiple reconstructive surgeries.
In fact, it had been less than a year earlier in 2015 when Outlaw had undergone right reconstructive shoulder surgery in February after dislocating his shoulder attempting to ride Sinful Nature in Kansas City, Missouri.
He then returned to competition in August only to injure his left shoulder in his second event back. Outlaw was able to able to battle his way through his second major shoulder injury to conclude the 2015 season 30th in the world standings.
2015 was his fourth consecutive World Finals, which is tied with Lachlan Richardson for the most qualifications for riders 23 or younger.
In a way, Outlaw’s two shoulder surgeries had him placed on the backburner of all of this year’s young guns talk.
Rookies Jess Lockwood and Derek Kolbaba have teamed with Cooper Davis and Tanner Byrne to take over as the new leaders of the next bull riding generation, but a healthy Outlaw could be a dangerous addition to an already strong and growing group.
Outlaw understands the more he rides, the more likely it is people will once again be talking about the tough-as-nails Arkansas bull rider.
“Shoot, it don’t really bother me if they don’t talk about me,” Outlaw said. “If you start tearing it up they will. You just have to give them a reason to.”
And now that he has given them a reason?
“It is their fault, if they don’t,” Outlaw concluded with a smile.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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