By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – A desire for perfection was on two-time World Champion Jess Lockwood’s mind long before he bucked off Undertaker in the championship round of the PBR Lucas Oil Invitational Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa.
Lockwood won Round 2 earlier in the day with an 89.75-point effort on Rebel Call, but he shook his head in frustration as he picked up his bull rope in the arena before elaborating with CBS Sports Network’s Kate Harrison.
“I hate to say it, but I just haven’t felt myself,” Lockwood said. “I feel like I am being a little lazy and not really going at these bulls. I am just getting by to make the whistle and not being aggressive. I felt tight at the end. I got sat down on my butt and I just went into preservation mode to make the whistle instead of getting up on my legs and finishing my job. I got the job done, but it is not how I like to get the job done.”
Lockwood later bucked off Undertaker in 5.18 seconds in the championship round as he attempted to win the 13th event of his premier series career.
A win could have helped Lockwood inch back into the 2020 world title race with world leader Jose Vitor Leme not cleared to compete this weekend. Instead, Lockwood wound up finishing fourth overall in Des Moines for 41 world points.
The Unleash The Beast has an off weekend coming up before resuming with the PBR Wrangler Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Oct. 3-4. Lockwood is tentatively in the draw for the Casper, Wyoming, Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour event on Oct. 2 as well.
The No. 4-ranked rider in the world trails Leme by 716 points with four regular-season Unleash The Beast events remaining until the World Finals.
For a rider to have a realistic shot at winning the 2020 World Championship, he will likely have to be within 650 points of the world No. 1 ranking at the start of the World Finals. However, a rider within 800 points of the world No. 1 ranking could also remain in contention with a victory at the Finals, but he would need some major help from his opponents stubbing their toes.
One rider can earn a maximum of 1,040 points at the World Finals.
Lockwood is only 3-for-9 since returning to competition following a six-month recovery from a torn left hamstring.
The Volborg, Montana native’s nine round wins this season still is second only to Leme (15).
Two-time World Champion Justin McBride said on CBS Sports Network that it looked at times as if Lockwood was riding too tight since he came back, but he saw positive things for Lockwood to build off with his Round 2-winning ride.
“Great ride by Lockwood, and there it is,” McBride said. “You can see it almost when the bull went back the other way and wanted to clamp and he didn’t. He started letting go of things, moving his feet. I am not talking about spurring. Just moving with the bull. Going back to the middle. Most guys don’t like that bull. They don’t want any part of him. Lockwood has been on him before and bucked off. He is fired up to have him again because he knows this can be the result – a round win, which he realty needs.”
Vieira and Pacheco also gain some ground in Des Moines
World No. 2 Joao Ricardo Vieira and No. 3 Kaique Pacheco also made up some ground on Leme this weekend in Des Moines.
Vieira is now 545.09 points behind Leme after finishing in eighth place in Des Moines. The 36-year-old failed to ride Big Black Cat in the championship round, lasting 4.95 seconds.
Pacheco did not compete in the championship round because of a strained left hamstring, but he still moved ahead of Lockwood in the world standings, and he is 713.50 points behind Leme.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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