NEW YORK — Jess Lockwood seems to ride best under the big lights.
The 2017 Professional Bull Riders world champion captured the Unleash The Beast Monster Energy Buck Off at The Garden championship on Sunday here.
It is the second time Lockwood has won the season-opening PBR elite series event at Madison Square Garden. The three-day event, considered a major on the PBR tour, wrapped up on Sunday.
The 21-year-old Lockwood collected 895 world standings points and $118,350. He also won the season-opening major in New York in 2017.
Lockwood entered the final round as the top-ranked rider in the aggregate. With his selection of previously unridden Prayer Warrior, Lockwood rode to a season-high 91.75 points.
“I was confident coming in (to last season), but there were times when I didn’t want to ride bulls at all,” the Volborg bull rider, who battled injuries and placed 12th in the final standings last year, said in a PBR press release. “I was pretty disappointed in myself. After the season, I thought to myself, ‘If you’re going to do this, do it right.’ This sport is just too gosh-darn dangerous to do it any other way.”
Matt Triplett of Kalispell placed fifth. Triplett scored 86.5 points in round three and registered a 88.75-point ride in the championship round to pocket $11,100. Triplett also earned 261.5 world points and is 10th in the 2019 world standings, 752.5 points behind Lockwood.
Lockwood's day began with a punishing 85-point ride aboard Dream Catcher in the third round. After recording his ride, Lockwood absorbed three hard hits from the bull, according to the PBR release. He would pass the concussion testing and was setup for his final ride of the day.
The rookie of the year in 2016 when he placed eighth in the final standings, Lockwood is one of three bull riders to win the New York major in multiple years. The win in 2017 jump-started Lockwood's championship season, when he recorded four wins on his way to becoming the youngest PBR, and the first from the Treasure State, champion. Overall, Lockwood claimed $1.5 million for 2017.
Competing on the big stage in New York, Lockwood started fast sharing first place in the opening round on Friday with an 88.25 point ride for $5,750. He was also second in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
In the second round, Lockwood bucked to an 86.5-point ride on board the bull White Lightning. He placed fourth in round two on Saturday and claimed the lead with the score.
Lockwood, who will ride for the Team USA-Eagles at the upcoming PBR Global Cup, leads Claudio Montanha Jr. by 572.5 points in the world standings. Montanha won the Billings elite series PBR stop last year for $41,809.
Montanha finished second, and like Lockwood also finished 4-for-4 on opening weekend. He claimed 344.3 world points and $20,100. Cannon Cravens, 18, finished third and reigning Velocity Tour champ Alisson De Souza was fourth. De Souza was one of three riders to cover all of their rides.
The PBR will return to Billings for the 23rd straight year April 12-14 at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark. Lockwood earned his first PBR top-tier win in 2016 at Metra.
Just like when Lockwood won the season-opening major in 2017, the young bull rider leaves New York as the top-ranked bull rider in the world.
At that event, trying to cap a 4-for-4 weekend, Lockwood had a dramatic 82.25 point ride in the championship round, as he grasped the bull rope as he was thrown and just beat the 8-second whistle, to win the title and leave New York as the top-ranked bull rider in the world for the first time in his career.
More big rides, including Sunday, have followed.