Austin Eckroat wins weather-delayed Cognizant Classic for first PGA Tour victory

Austin Eckroat celebrates winning the cognizant classic

Austin Eckroat won a weather-delayed Cognizant Classic on Monday at PGA National Resort to pick up his first career PGA Tour title.

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Austin Eckroat had slept on a 54-hole lead before. But how would he sleep on a 61-hole lead? That was the question as Eckroat left the course on Sunday night clinging to a one-stroke lead with 11 holes to play as he readied for a weather-delayed Monday finish.

The answer? Pretty well, apparently.

Eckroat won the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches on Monday at PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., leading the field in birdies and claiming his first PGA Tour victory in his 50th career Tour start.

The 25-year-old pro closed with a four-under 67, finishing 17 under overall, three clear of Erik van Rooyen and Min Woo Lee.

Eckroat, who is ranked 101st in the world, had a solid but unspectacular start to his season before this week. He’d made four of five cuts with no finish better than 25th and nothing worse than 42nd. His previous best finish on Tour was a T2 at last year’s AT&T Byron Nelson, which is also the only other time he’s held a share of the 54-hole lead. But it’s not like he imploded that Sunday — he shot a bogey-free six-under 65, which was only topped by Jason Day’s Sunday 62, good for a one-shot win.

“You can’t really visualize what it will be messing around when you’re a kid on the putting green having putts to win PGA Tour events and win the Masters and stuff like that,” Eckroat said. “But coming into today, I’ve been in this situation before at the Byron Nelson where I had a lead. I didn’t really know what to expect what the feeling would be. I knew finishing second was heartbreaking. I’m not real sure. I still don’t think I’m sure how I feel yet. I know I’m excited.”

But this time, Eckroat’s final-round lead, at least on Monday, was never in doubt.

Eckroat, Shane Lowry and David Skinns shared the 54-hole lead, but a 3 1/2-hour weather delay hit the property before 26 players even had a chance to tee off on Sunday afternoon. When play resumed, the final pairings only had time to fit in a handful of holes.

Eckroat, in the penultimate pairing, finished seven holes and led at 15 under. Behind him, Lowry (12 under) and Skinns (11 under) marked their balls on the 6th hole fairway to resume from there Monday.

Van Rooyen shot 63 on Sunday and had the clubhouse lead at 14 under, but reports on Monday said he was seven miles down the road at the Seminole Pro-Member. He must have known a playoff was unlikely. He was right.

Returning to PGA National Resort’s Champion course for an 8 a.m. ET restart on Monday, Eckroat made four straight pars before he birdied the 12th and 13th. He failed to get up and down from a bunker on 14 and made bogey, but he didn’t make a mistake again.

Eckroat entered the Bear Trap — the diabolical three-hole stretch of Nos. 15-17 — with a two-shot lead. He two-putted for par on 15 and rolled in a 12-footer for birdie on 16 to stretch his lead to three. Stress-free pars on 17 and 18 secured the win — and unlocked a handful of new tournaments he’s now exempt into, including the Masters.

Josh Berhow Editor

As’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at