By: Justin Felisko
October 25, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Chase Outlaw has a lot to be proud of since bouncing back from two reconstructive shoulder surgeries in the last 18 months.
Regardless, Outlaw wasn’t ready to rest on his laurels after clinching a fifth consecutive trip to the Built Ford Tough World Finals this weekend with his first BFTS event victory since 2014.
There is still one major bucket list item on Outlaw’s task list before he will take any solace or pride in how far he has come in his remarkable recovery.
“The Sunday after next will be a full circle,” Outlaw said, referencing the final day of the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals (Nov. 6). “You are just going to have to tune-in to Vegas to find out because I am on top of the world right now and I don’t plan on coming down any time soon.”
Outlaw was oozing with confidence following his 3-for-3 showing at the Take The Money and Ride, presented by the Ak-Chin Indian Community, Built Ford Tough Series regular-season finale this past weekend in Tucson, Arizona.
The 24-year-old won the event with a season-high 89.25 points on Chantilly Lace after previously riding Pistol Pete (86.5 points) and Jump Around (86 points).
It was Outlaw’s first three-ride weekend since January 2015 – five months before his first shoulder surgery. He hadn’t won a BFTS event since Nashville 2014.
Everything appears to be clicking at just the right time for the Hamburg, Arkansas, bull rider. He has ridden eight of his last 12 heading into the World Finals and is ranked 23rd in the world standings.
“There is no better time of year to be hotter than a firecracker,” Outlaw said. “I am glad we finished it here.”
Outlaw knows a world title is out of the question because he missed the first six months of the season, but he is very much focused on becoming the 19th different rider in PBR history to win the prestigious World Finals event title.
“Absolutely. Each and every time we are supposed to show up and give it our all and win it,” Outlaw said. “That is what I plan on doing. If I have anything to say with it, then that is how it is going to end.”
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray said he isn’t sure if Outlaw will win the World Finals, but he certainly is riding with tons of confidence at the right time.
“I thought he looked good. I thought he looked really good,” Murray said. “This whole sport to me comes down to confidence. What is the one thing, and there is never one thing, but if you said what is the one thing you need to have and to me it is confidence, especially to win a World Championship, especially to do good in a World Finals situation.
“If you don’t believe it, it is not going to happen out there.”
Fans can catch every round of the World Finals live on CBS Sports Network.
Outlaw certainly believes in himself.
The fact that Outlaw is even in the running as a potential dark horse contender to win the World Finals is amazing in itself.
He has only competed in six BFTS events this season after missing the first six months because of offseason surgery on his left shoulder. He only attempted one bull in his first event back in Nashville before having to miss an additional four weeks because of a separated shoulder.
Outlaw really helped his push to the World Finals this year by winning seven summer events during the BFTS break and going 25-for-49 at non-BFTS events.
The 5-foot-6 bull rider qualified for the World Finals last season after reconstructive surgery on his other shoulder limited him to only 13 events, five of which came post-surgery.
He has only been able to compete in 19 of the past 52 regular-season events because of shoulder injuries and still has been able to remain a BFTS mainstay when healthy.
Outlaw switched to a Brazilian-style bull rope in Tucson as a way to help protect his shoulders.
“The past four weeks, I have made the short round and not finished them in that short round,” Outlaw said. “I got really wrecked out last weekend, and this weekend was the first time I ever used a Brazilian rope. I switched to it to keep from hanging up and wrecking my shoulder out. Shoot, I have always thought about it, but I never did use one. It isn’t the rope that rides them.
“Man, that rope felt so good. It felt like a dream.”
Outlaw is 4-for-21 in four previous trips to the World Finals, and he admits he hasn’t had the best showing historically in Las Vegas.
“I haven’t had the Finals I have wanted to have the past few years,” Outlaw said. “This year I am turning over a new leaf and we are going to make it happen.”
Outlaw is hoping to begin his PBR Finals week with a BlueDEF Tour championship at the BlueDEF Tour Finals on Oct. 29-31 at the South Point Arena.
He will get on three, possibly four bulls, at the BlueDEF Finals before nodding his head inside T-Mobile Arena beginning on Nov. 2.
Outlaw is 26th in the BlueDEF Standings, but is only 225.83 points behind BlueDEF Tour leader Emilio Resende.
“You can’t sit back and say, ‘Well, I got this one done and slack up,’ he concluded. “You have to keep mashing the gas and keep that pedal to the metal.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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