Eckroat Earns First PGA Tour Title by Three Strokes Over Lee and Van Rooyen

Austin Eckroat finally proved what everyone seemed to know — that he is a winner.

The 25-year-old Eckroat claimed his first professional victory in this 50th start on the PGA Tour, closing with a four-under-par 67 to beat Min Woo Lee of Australia and Erik van Rooyen of South Africa in the 52nd edition of what is now the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches on the Champion Course at PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

The Monday finish was made necessary by three-and-a-half hour rain delay on Sunday.

“This has always been my dream to win on the PGA Tour,” said Eckroat, who earned exemptions into the Masters, the PGA Championship, the Open Championship and the Players Championship. “And just to win, I haven’t won since 2019 and that was a college event. It’s just been so long. I’m just so happy.”

“I just kept telling myself: ‘I’ve put myself in this position for a reason. This is what I want to do.’ I was just really happy I was able to perform in the situation. The adversity of sleeping mid-round, I’m just really happy with how I handled it.”

Eckroat, whose best previous finish was a tie for second in the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson, made three of his five birdies on the back nine against a single bogey in his 67 and posted a winning score of 17-under-par 267.

Lee, who has won four times as a pro but not on the PGA Tour, made an eight-foot eagle putt in another 67, while Van Rooyen, whose six victories include two on the PGA Tour, didn’t hit a shot on Monday after shooting a brilliant 63 the day before.

“I think (I needed to finish) solo third,” said Lee, who qualified for the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week with his runner-up finish. “I knew that last night that I needed to play like that. Yeah, it’s amazing. I was thinking about it coming down the stretch. Obviously thinking about the win, but yeah, was a really proud moment today.

“There’s a lot of times where you just kind of think like too far ahead, so it was just a one-shot-at-a-time kind of moment, especially after the rain delay. Yeah, really proud of the way I handled myself this week.”

Shane Lowry of Ireland, who was tied for the lead after three rounds, managed only a closing 71 and finished four shots back in a tie for fourth with Cameron Young, Jake Knapp and K.H. Lee of South Korea, who all shot 66, and David Skinns of England, another third-round co-leader, who also wound up at 71.

Keith Mitchell had five birdies on the front nine in a 65 and finished five shots behind in a big tie for ninth with Billy Horschel (66), Peter Malnati (67), Alex Noren of Sweden (67), Andrew Novak (68), Kevin Yu of Taiwan (69) and Martin Laird of Scotland (69).

Second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who won this tournament in 2012, closed with a 68 to finish in a tie for 21st that included ninth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England, who wound up at 67, while defending champion Chris Kirk came in at 65 to wins up in a tie for 28th.

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