Yet, before Friday night’s opening round of the Ty Murray Invitational, Knapp had never actually competed in the Ty Murray.
Recovering from a shoulder surgery to repair his labrum, Knapp attended the 2018 Ty Murray as a fan with a vested interest in his future.
“Someone gave me a free ticket, so I came by myself to try and see if I could learn something,” Knapp said before Saturday night’s second round at the Dreamstyle Arena – the Pit.
So, what did the 28-year-old learn from a spectator’s point of view?
“I learned how hungry I was for the sport,” Knapp said. “I told myself, I’m going to be here next year.”
Before he could attain that lofty goal, Knapp had to take care of himself. He underwent six months of grueling physical therapy to put himself in position to succeed this year.
In the absence of a high ranking, Knapp had to start nearly from scratch applying for his professional permit and then work his way up the professional tours.
A win at the Velocity Tour’s Grand Rapids, Mich., event during the winter months kick-started Knapp’s first full-time professional season since 2014, and it was especially sweet given Knapp’s family connection to the area.
“My uncle lives there, and I have a bunch of family there (in Grand Rapids),” Knapp said. “So, I was thinking, that would be funny if I ended up winning, and sure enough I did. My uncle, he was pumped because he never got to see me do rodeo that much. So, it was pretty exciting.”
Finding that success early in the season led to invites to the PBR’s top series, Unleash the Beast, and more top-10 finishes.
Knapp is at a career-best 34th in the world rankings, and this success has been a long time coming for the Edgewood resident.
“Physically, I’m probably in the best shape of my life,” Knapp said. “Some of these guys come out here and have instant success. For me, it’s been a mental game. It’s hard to overcome and getting psyched out when you’re here … I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and lot of in-betweens. Just when you think you’re going to make it, you have a setback. That’s bull riding for you. You have to keep pushing through, and I’m thankful to be here.”
PBR’S COURT JESTER: Flint Rasmussen is as recognizable a figure on the Professional Bull Riders tour as any of the world-class athletes.
Rasmussen is the PBR’s exclusive rodeo clown, and he fills the breaks in the action at each event with his unique brand of comedy and entertainment.
While Rasmussen’s act may seem like schtick, he says one of the reasons for his success is his ability to ad-lib. Some of his best moments, he said, have come from his quick wit.
“I’m really not playing a character as far as the personality goes,” Rasmussen said before Saturday’s second round of the Ty Murray Invitational. “You have to go into it in character, but who you see out there is me.”
Rasmussen, though, quickly pointed out that the guy you see in the arena isn’t the same guy you’ll see during off hours.
“I’m actually pretty low energy in real life,” Rasmussen said jokingly. “But for the 2½ hours (of the show), people say, ‘where do you get all this energy? How do you do that?’ I say, ‘How do you sit in your office all day?’ You can turn it either way. … With the fans, they’re just blowing up the balloon for me — especially here (at the Pit). For 2½ hours, let’s go.”
SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Matt Triplett of Columbia Falls, Mont., emerged as the
second-day winner of the Ty Murray Invitational, scoring 88 points. Through two days of scoring, Marco Eguchi of Brazil and Chase Outlaw of Hamburg, Ark., share the overall lead with 174.50 points. … In the competition within the competition, the top 15 world-ranked bull riders squared off against the top 15 ranked bulls with world title points at stake. Jess Lockwood, the 2017 world champion, rode Bad Decisions to a 91.25 to capture the additional world title points. … Paid attendance Saturday was just under 8,900, PBR officials said. … Today’s final session of the Ty Murray begins at 1:45 p.m. with doors opening at 12:15 p.m.