Cauley Shoots 65, Leads Eckroat, Higgo by One Stroke in 52nd Cognizant Classic

Bud  Cauley is back.

The 33-year-old Cauley, who missed three seasons on the PGA Tour because of injuries before returning last month, sank an 11-foot birdie putt on the last hole and shot a bogey-free, six-under-par 65 in the second round to lead the 52nd Cognizant Classic in the Palm Beaches by one stroke over Austin Eckroat and Garrick Higgo of South Africa on the Champion Course at PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

For the second straight day, play was halted by darkness and the players still on the course will return on Saturday morning to finish their rounds before the 36-hole cut is made and the third round begins.

“There were a lot of times where I thought that my career was over,” said Cauley, whose only professional victory came in the 2014 Hotel Fitness Championship on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour. “Everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong,” he said. But he eventually, after a successful surgery on his ribs and chest wall, felt healthy enough to attempt a return.

“It’s hard to put into words how much you kind of miss something when you grow up doing it every day and you play golf every day, and when it gets taken away, it does change your perspective on just how fortunate we are to be able to play golf and even to get to do the thing that you enjoy doing. I’m just so happy to be alive and playing on the PGA Tour again.”

“I saw the leaderboard when I was coming down 18 and knew if I made birdie I would have the lead.”  

Cauley, who sustained six broken ribs, a collapsed right lung and a fractured left leg in a car accident in 2018, took the Cognizant lead by collecting three birdies on each nine while recording a 36-hole of 11-under-par 131.

The left-handed Higgo birdied four of his first seven holes in a 65, while Eckroat made two birdies on each nine in a bogey-free 67.

“It was solid,” said the 25-year-old Eckroat, who has yet to win as a pro. “It was really stress-free golf for the most part. … It was just solid all around.”

Victor Perez of France made three birdies on each nine against a single bogey in his 66 and is two shots behind in a tie for fourth with Kevin Yu of Taiwan, who had two of his five birdies down the stretch in a 67.

Second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who won this tournament in 2012, birdied three of the last four holes in a second straight 67 and is three down in a big tie for sixth with Jake Knapp, who carded a bogey-free 66; Shane Lowry of Ireland, who birdied the first four holes on the back nine in a 67; Jake Knapp, who shot a bogey-free 66; C.T. Pan of Taiwan, who birdied his first three holes to kick-start a 68; Sam Ryder, who had three birdies on the back nine in a 68, and Cameron Young, who also made three birdies on the back side in a 69.

Ninth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England, who won the 2013 U.S. Amateur and the 2022 U.S. Open, birdied his first three holes in a 67 and is tied for 24th that includes defending champion Chris Kirk, who made a triple-bogey 7 on the 14th hole in his 70.

For complete results and third-round tee times, visit

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