Gates produced a string of fine performances to scoop the $10,000 title at Madison Square Garden, defeating defending champion Danny Baggish 6-3 in Saturday’s showpiece.
The 51-year-old converted two ton-plus finishes in wins over Jules van Dongen and David Cameron earlier in the day, recovering from 5-3 down to edge out Cameron with a 12-darter in the decider.
Gates then produced a clinical display to deny Baggish at the Hulu Theater, winning four of the final five legs to seal a spot in this year’s Cazoo World Darts Championship.
“It’s amazing right now, the feeling is overwhelming,” an emotional Gates reflected post-match.
“It is definitely the most memorable moment for me, but now I am hungry for more.
“It was awesome. I love it. We need to have more of it [big events] over in the States. I want to experience more of it.”
Gates, an established figure on the soft-tip circuit, is yet to feature in a PDC World Championship, but he is already excited to sample the unique Alexandra Palace atmosphere in December.
“I’m so delighted because the crowd there is going to be like: ‘This guy made it’ so I’m going to be there to represent and be in that atmosphere and play some good darts,” Gates added.
“I am also going to be better prepared, to give the fans something and to showcase my talent. I am looking forward to it.
“Each year when I’m not there, I’m watching it and I’m like: ‘I want to be there, I want to experience that. Whoever they put in front of me, let’s go to battle.”
Prior to his domestic success on Saturday afternoon, Gates was also the solitary North American challenger to advance to the quarter-finals of the US Darts Masters, sweeping aside Fallon Sherrock 6-2 in his opener.
This set up a showdown against World Champion Peter Wright in the last eight, and although Wright ran out a convincing 8-3 winner, it was a moment to savour for the affable American.
“It was a great experience, but I was more focused on what I was doing and what I couldn’t correct,” he continued.
“Once it clicks in for me it would be a different game, but it’s definitely a good experience to play against the world number one.”
Despite his impressive résumé, Gates is still a relative newcomer on the big PDC stages, yet he insists his experience can prove invaluable as he bids to make further strides in the sport.
Darts is synonymous with late bloomers and Wright is a shining example, winning the first of his two World Championship titles just weeks before his 50th birthday – a source of inspiration for Gates.
“There’s always talk about it being a young man’s game. They are going to tell you everything is a young man’s game.
“I’m sorry but if you don’t have the experience, if you don’t have the know-how and the persistence to keep doing something, it’s not a young man’s game.
“I tell people you can always improve in this game. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you stick with it, you can improve on it, you can get better at it and you can go far in it”