"It’s a big event for everyone here,” he said. “It’s a lot of points, a lot of money. I’m so glad.”
Eguchi earned more than $124,000, but the 857.5 points could prove to be far more valuable if he were to win this year’s gold buckle and the $1 million bonus that comes with it.
Eguchi advanced out of Saturday night’s first round of the progressive tournament-style format with 87.75 points on Milky Chance and gave himself an opportunity at four bulls in four rounds on Sunday afternoon inside of a two-hour live broadcast on CBS.
Those four bulls turned into five when Udder Lover clipped Eguchi’s knee on a corner post as they came out of the bucking chute. He made use of the re-ride opportunity by earning another 86.5 points on QuickFire to advance to the third of five rounds.
Despite bucking off Budakon in Round 3, Eguchi advanced to the four-man fourth round by virtue of his 174.25 points in the aggregate. He was the lone rider to earn a qualified ride of 86.75 points to advance to the fifth and final round. He and rookie Dalton Kasel were the top two riders.Both bucked off their respective bulls, giving Eguchi the win.
Last year’s understated World Finals average winner said he was “happy.” Eguchi has not felt that way the entire season and admitted, “I was not where I wanted to be before this event, so I knew I had to push hard.”
The current point system has not always been kind to Eguchi, who has been riding 35 percent of his bulls at the elite televised level of PBR competition. When he has made the whistle, he has not always had scores that put him the average for points or money.
As a result, for much of the season, he’s battled in the lower half and sometimes bottom third of the Top 35 ranked riders.
“Sometimes you ride your bull and you don’t make any score,” he said. “I am not angry with this format. I just have to do it and I’m glad to do good in this event.”
With next weekend off, he said he plans to continue pushing hard with his training and, yet, work to stay loose. He also plans to get some barrel work in every day between now and when he leaves for the next elite event in Anaheim, California.
Eguchi, a six-time World Finals qualifier, is the fourth Monster Energy teammate to ride his way into the Top 10. Chase Outlaw and Jose Vitor Leme are ranked second and third respectively, while Derek Kolbaba and Eguchi are eighth and ninth in the current standings. All four of them along with two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney will be in Anaheim. Asked if there’s enough season left to make a serious run at a world title in 2019, Eguchi concluded, “Oh yeah.”