The last time World No. 2 Owen Wright walked up to the Fiji Pro, he won the event. And he had two perfect heats along the way. Prior to the 2015 event, the feat had been accomplished only six other times in the entire 33-year history of the WSL. (Although, for the sake of record book posterity, no one will ever top Shane Beschen's improbable perfect 30-point heat during the 1996 Billabong Kirra Pro, mainly because the judging criteria has since changed from best three rides to the current best two rides.) In total, only four other surfers -- Kelly Slater (twice), Joel Parkinson (twice), the aforementioned Beschen and Jeremy Flores -- have reached such lofty heights. At the '15 event, Wright was rollicking.
In Round Five, the lanky goofyfooter produced the first of his stunningly perfect 20-point total heat scores, taking the win over a gobsmacked Adam Melling, who himself had an impressive heat score of 17.70, which included a 9.70 in the grindy, 8-foot windblown conditions. Later, in the Final against an overmatched Julian Wilson, Wright was double-grabbing the Cloudbreak wall á la the Hobgood twins to tremendous effect, closing the heat with back-to-back perfect 10s (his third back-up wave scored a 9.60).
Wright missed last year's event due to a yearlong recovery from his well-documented head injury at Pipeline in the final weeks of 2015. But that was then, and this is now. So far in 2017, he kicked off the year with an emotional win at Snapper, and has since followed it up with a pair of Quarterfinal exits at Bells and Margaret River, and a ninth at the Oi Rio Pro. Leaving Brazil, he's currently situated in a three-way tie at No. 2 on the Jeep Leaderboard, well positioned to find his groove again at a wave that sings his tune.
With Wright sitting just 350 short of John John Florence's Jeep Leaderboard tally, there's good reason for those hovering near the top to be worried. The fact is that while Florence and De Souza have made the Semifinals there, and Jordy's made a single Quarterfinal, Owen is the only surfer currently in the Top 4 who has made a Finals appearance in Fiji. And after sitting out last season, you can bet Wright's ready to bring his wrath.