(Editor's note: PBR media release)
PUEBLO, Colo. – Reigning World Champion Jess Lockwood’s world title defense has hit a significant roadblock.
An MRI Monday showed that Lockwood sustained a complete left hamstring tear following his 91.5-point ride on I’m Legit Too Sunday at the Caterpillar Classic in Kansas City, Missouri.
Lockwood made the news public Tuesday morning on his Instagram account, saying that he will undergo reconstructive hamstring surgery next Monday in New York and that he will be out of competition for six months.
The injury occurred in a freak accident at the Sprint Center when the 22-year-old caught his right spur in his bull rope during his dismount from I’m Legit Too. The bovine athlete then yanked Lockwood into a split, ripping his hamstring muscles completely from his hip.
Last year, Lockwood was still able to win the 2019 world title despite missing three months and nine Unleash The Beast events because of a broken left collarbone.
Lockwood, though, was the No. 1-ranked bull rider at the time of his injury last year and had a 967.5-point lead in the old points system.
This is a significantly more serious injury, and Lockwood currently trails world leader Jose Vitor Leme by 72.5 points in the world standings.
A six-month timeline would place Lockwood potentially back in action around September. If he were to be cleared by Labor Day, that would give Lockwood seven regular-season UTB events and the 2020 PBR World Finals on Nov. 4-8. If Lockwood has to miss all of September, that would leave him with four regular-season events and the World Finals.
Lockwood competed in 18 UTB events in total last year.
Of course, Lockwood’s chances are slimmer today than they were a week ago when it comes to the 2020 world title, but one rider can earn up to 1,040 world points at the World Finals, which offers 4.3% more points than last year’s Finals.
World Finals round victories are worth 80 points – the equivalent to winning a two-day UTB event average – and the event average at the World Finals pays out 560 world points.
Lockwood won the 2019 PBR World Finals by going 5-for-6 with one round victory, and he will need another massive performance at the Finals if he wants to become the second rider in PBR history to win back-to-back world titles. He would have earned 772 world points at the World Finals in this year’s current points system.
Lockwood had looked every part of a World Champion contender this year. He is 18-for-31 (58.06%) with a victory, five 90-point rides and a PBR-leading nine round wins on the Unleash The Beast.
The torn hamstring is the latest injury in Lockwood’s seemingly endless saga of injuries. Entering this season, Lockwood had already missed 25 premier series events in his career since turning pro in 2016, which is the equivalent to essentially one full season.
“There hasn’t been a year that I haven’t been hurt and not had to sit out,” Lockwood said last year. “Even in 2016, I didn’t miss any Built Ford Toughs (after he made his debut in Sioux Falls, South Dakota), but I missed the majority of the summer (because of a partially torn right MCL).
“I feel like I missed out a lot, for damn sure. I don’t worry about it too much. I just make sure I make the most of the ones I get to.”
Two years ago, Lockwood missed the final six events of the regular season because of a torn right groin, putting an end to his pursuit then of becoming a back-to-back World Champion.
Lockwood won his first world title in 2017 despite missing five first half events because of a torn left groin and two second-half events because of four broken ribs, a punctured lung and a lacerated kidney.
The fifth-year pro has continued to bounce back from every injury that comes his way, and as he said last summer, “It is life and it is bull riding. You are going to get hurt.”