SYDNEY, Australia – Cooper Davis didn’t really have much to say when Team USA coach Justin McBride called upon him following his own pre-event speech inside the locker room on Saturday night before the start of the Sydney Global Cup.
Davis may not be a rah-rah speech kind of guy, but his riding on the first night of the Global Cup at Qudos Bank Arena has Team USA fired up in the biggest of ways.
With the United States trailing both Team Australia and Team Brazil in the Bonus Round, Davis made a monumental ride for Team USA aboard the previously unridden Un Broken to give the Americans tons of momentum heading into Championship Sunday.
The 2016 PBR World Champion made easy work of one of the best bulls going in PBR Australia for 86.5 points.
Un Broken had bucked off all 14 of his previous challengers.
“We need every ride we can get, but anybody that is counting USA out right now doesn’t know the format,” Davis said. “We are going for gold and we are still in it pretty good.”
Team USA is sitting in third place (7-for-9, 585.5 points) following the first night of competition.
Team Brazil is leading the event after going 8-for-9 (662.75 points).
Team Australia is right on the Brazilians' heels with eight rides for 657 points in 16 outs (Team Australia has more outs because they are the host country).
Team Canada is well within striking distance as well (7-for-9, 555.5 points), while Team Mexico is in last place (2-for-9, 168.5 points).
Fans can watch the conclusion of the Global Cup exclusively on RidePass beginning at 5:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, June 10.
The Americans may be in third place, but the reigning Global Cup champs from Edmonton left Qudos Bank Arena excited and fired up thanks to their captain.
Davis was mobbed by his teammates following his interviews on RidePass just as Stetson Lawrence said, “Nice ride, Captain!”
Team USA head coach Justin McBride wasn’t surprised one bit.
“That is big stuff,” McBride said. “We have talked about it before. That is the leader of Team USA and that is why. When all the pressure is on, you rely on your champ and he comes through.”
Davis came out swinging against Un Broken when the Dakota Brandenburg Bucking Bull left the bucking chutes hard to the right before switching back to the left in the final second.
“That bull was really, really strong and up and down,” Davis said. “I got tapped off and about the time I did he went back left. Bulls like that are unridden for a reason. He is really smart. I dropped my elbow and got back around there pretty good.”
Brandenburg tipped her hat to Davis.
She knew her bull had his hands full the moment McBride announced that Davis would be taking on her bovine superstar.
“Look, I think we expected that all day long,” Brandenburg said. “Cooper Davis rides really, really good and that bull didn’t have his best day. He had been feeling a little off, but we can only go on from here.”
Another Brandenburg bull did get the best of Team USA in the Bonus Round, however.
Reigning PBR World Champion Jess Lockwood was unable to conquer the undefeated Take The Gamble earlier in the round.
Take The Gamble improved to 19-0 when he ripped Lockwood off his back in 4.65 seconds.
“He was good tonight,” Brandenburg said. “It was good to see Lockwood up against him. He is the world champ and the best, so yeah. I guess we all didn’t know what to expect, but he did his job and Lockwood gave it his all.”
McBride said he had no regrets about selecting the unridden bull for Lockwood.
“I thought he was a good little bull,” McBride said. “He just got Jess reared back right around the corner and he is too fast for that. If he doesn’t rear him back, I think Jess rides him all day. If I had to do it all over again, I would pick the same bull and put the same guy on him.”
McBride certainly had Team USA swinging for the fences in the Bonus Round, and Davis made the decision for the team to challenge the unridden bulls worthwhile.
That kind of aggressiveness may pay off on Sunday with the Top 4 teams all easily in striking distance of the 12 qualified rides mark.
The team with the highest aggregate score based on their 12 best rides will be the event winner, not necessarily the team with the most qualified rides.
“Anytime somebody stays on, especially in this round right here, it definitely helps everybody’s motivation and keeping everybody’s hopes alive,” Davis said. “We are all pumped up and like our chances.”
McBride added, “I don’t think these guys are ever going to give up on each other. The two buckoffs we had, the guys tried their guts off. As long as you have that, you always have a shot.”
Davis set the tone from the get-go for Team USA when he was the first rider to climb into the chutes for the red, white and blue and came through with 85 points on Lock N Load in Round 1.
The 24-year-old is leading the individual event average race in Sydney with 171.5 points. The individual event winner wins $22,710.07 (USD).
Kaique Pacheco (164.25), Tanner Byrne (163) and Jared Parsonage (150.75) are the only other riders 2-for-2.
Davis said after his first ride that he feels like it is up to him to make sure he helps lead Team USA to a second consecutive Global Cup victory.
“I feel like these guys are on my back right now,” Davis said. “To go out there and set it up for us is very important. Everybody is feeling it right now. You can tell in the locker room everyone is feeling it.
“The guys that had never been before didn’t know what to expect. Now they are grasping the whole fact that it is a team deal. This is a once a year type deal that is pretty dang special to be a part of.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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