“It felt awesome,” Gay said. “Winning that event really boosted my confidence to the sky for the rest of the year.”
Not only was his sponsor the title sponsor of the event, but it also happened to earn him a $109,000 payday on Sunday afternoon.
“Yeah, I definitely picked a good weekend to win,” said Gay, of the second event win of his career and the first since winning Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2014.
It wasn’t that Gay was a perfect 4-for-4. It was how good he looked doing it.
He opened the season with an 83.25-point effort on Sarge and then rode Biloxi Shores for a modest 81 points in Round 2 on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Gay admitted opening with a three-day event was taxing for everyone – “you can expect that for the first event of the year, guys are just getting back in the groove of things” – in the draw, but “got lucky” when he drew Luke, a bull he described as “not too stout.” Gay easily made the whistle a third time for 85 points and one of the top picks in the bull draft for the Championship Round, where he selected Cut the Chord.
Then he dominated in his final out of the weekend.
Gay outscored the bull by two full points – 46 compared to 44 – in earning 90 points.
“It’s the best I felt and the most fun I’ve had in a long time riding bulls,” Gay said.
The last time he went for 90+ was when he made 8 seconds for 91 points twice at a pair of lower level PBR events in July 2015 and again in July 2014. The last time he scored 90 at an elite televised event was at Billings, Montana, in April 2014.
“In the off-season I hit the gym every day for about an hour or so,” Gay said. “I wasn’t trying to get big. I didn’t touch the weights. I just run on the treadmill and do core workouts and leg workouts and stuff."
“I really started treating it like a job instead of just coming home during the week and not doing anything, so I really think that’s starting to pay off for me. … But it was definitely a grueling weekend just getting back in the groove and really getting the body stretched out for the year.”
The event-win earned him 700 points in the world standings.
However, Gay was quick to point out it’s too early to celebrate.
“It feels good,” Gay said, “but it’s only the first event of the year. I can’t get excited. I know I need to keep doing my job to stay there.”
Fellow Monster Energy teammates J.B. Mauney and Guilherme Marchi also advanced to the Championship Round in NYC.
Team Monster – Derek Kolbaba, Jose Vitor Leme, Mason Lowe, Robson Palermo, Gay, Mauney and Marchi – will be in Chicago this coming weekend for the Chicago Invitational at Allstate Arena.