Austin Eckroat claims first PGA Tour win at Cognizant Classic

Austin Eckroat earned his first PGA Tour victory Monday in the weather-delayed Cognizant Classic, pocketing $1.62 million along with TOUR status for two years and a trip to the Masters.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida – Most states celebrate the first day of summer somewhere in the middle of June, but the Sunshine State celebrates the beginning of summer when the PGA TOUR comes to town for the 2024 Cognizant Classic (Feb 29-Mar 3) at the PGA National’s Champion Course here in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

It’s the first of four tournaments, to start the summer off, being held around the state in the month of March with the Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Players Championship, and the Valspar Championship to follow.

This year’s prestigious 2024 Classic has a new sponsor “Cognizant,” which is a multi-national Information Technology services and consulting company. It replaces the Honda Corporation who sponsored the Classic from 2007-2023.

That will be the only changes this year as the144 player field has been set with a number of returning champions including Rory McIlroy 2012, Chris Kirk 2023, Sepp Straka 2022, Sungjae Im 2020, Rickie Fowler 2017, Padraig Harrington 2015, 2005, Russell Henley 2014, Camilo Villegas 2010 and the oldest returning winner Matt Kuchar 2003.

Austin Eckroat pockets $1.6 million for his first PGA Tour win.

The purse at the Cognizant Classic is $9 million with $1.62 million going to the winner. The winner will also receive 500 FedEx Cup points.


The storied past of the newly named Cognizant Classic goes all the way back to the National Airlines Open Invitational from 1969 to 1971 at the Country Club of Miami in Hialeah, Florida. It was replaced by The Gleason Tournament in1973 and moved to the Inverrary Country Club in Lauderhill and was one of the riches events with a $260,000 purse and a $52,000 winner’s share. Gleason’s nine-year affiliation ended after the 1980 season.

The 1981 event was renamed “American Motors Inverrary Classic” then change to the “Honda Inverrary Classic” the next year after a switch in sponsors. After moving around from 1992 to 2006, the 2007 season found the Honda Classic settling into its current home on the Champions Course at the PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.

1986 Kenny Knox (66, 71 80 72) won the Honda Classic. He was the first Monday qualifier to win on the PGA Tour and is the only player to win with a round of 80.


Rory McIlroy wins the 2012 Honda Classic over Tiger Woods and Tom Gillis to claim the No. 1 spot in the World Official Golf Rankings (OWGR). Brian Harman posted a course record 61 in the second round.

2023 saw Chris Kirk win the “last” Honda Classic in extra holes over Eric Cole.

Four players have won the Classic more than once. Jack Nicklaus: 1977, 1978. Johnny Miller: 1980, 1983. Mark Calcavecchia: 1987, 1998. Padraig Harrington: 2005, 2015.


Originally designed by Tom and George Fazio for major tournament play, The Champion Course was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 2014. It comes with a par 71 (35-36) layout and 7,147 yards of peril including occasional tricky South Florida winds, that will wreak havoc with club selection and distance. There are a number of water penalty areas lurking throughout the course that stand ready to strike down even the world’s best golfers.

One stretch, that highly characterizes the problems water can cause on the course, players will have to navigate the dangerous and infamous Bear Trap (Holes No. 15-17). It includes two par threes, and a par 4 with each hole requiring a solid and accurate carry over water. This unique layout is appropriately referred to as “one of the toughest stretches in golf.”

The PGA National Champion Course has hosted a Ryder Cup in 1983, a PGA Championship in 1987 won by Larry Nelson, along with 19 years of senior PGA Championship and since 2007 the Honda classic.



What started as an almost perfect day for golf, during the morning tee times, became a typical Florida early spring afternoon for the later groupings. The calm winds, enjoyed by the early birds, started raising its ugly head making an already difficult golf course even tougher, for the afternoon players. Six of the eight players, on the top of today’s leaderboard, had morning tee times.

Chad Ramey 7-under, 253rd in the world rankings, carded a bogey-free 64 and was out front early at the Cognizant Classic until S.H. Kim 7-under, 122nd in the world, had an eagle and five birdies. Kim played the three par 5s in 4-under. Ramey hasn’t seen many top ten finishes since his 2022 Corales Puntacana Championship, which was his only win on tour.

“I’ve never been here and it not blowing,” said Ramey, who had missed three of five cuts on the PGA Tour this year. “To take advantage of the calm conditions is definitely a plus.” Ramsey, who joined the PGA TOUR in 2022, started this year’s Classic as a 300-1 shot to win, with the way this season has been going, he might just win this one.

Rory McIlroy finished 4-under while playing in a 7:40am threesome with last year’s winner Chris Kirk 4-under and Jake Knapp 3-under, who was the winner last week in Mexico. “You’re not going to get this course much easier,” said world No. 2 Rory McIlroy after his 67 that didn’t have him too pumped. “Probably could have been a couple shots better, but still a decent start.”

Round 1: Top 5
T1. Chad Ramey -7 (64)
T1. S. H. Kim -7 (64)
T3. Andrew Novak -6 (65)
T3. Austin Eckroat -6 (65)
T3. Ryan Moore -6 (65)
T3. Cameron Young -6 (65)
T3. Chesson Hadley -6 (65)
T3. David Skinns -6 (65)


Weather conditions today played a major role in keeping scores almost 3 strokes lower than yesterday. Only Austin Eckroat was able to keep himself in today’s top 5 from yesterday’s leaderboard. Right from the start players were up against 15-to-20 mile-per-hour winds with occasional gust to the mid 20’s, coupled with lightning-fast greens and water hazards lurking on almost every shot.

Thirty-three-year-old Bud Cauley’s 6-under 65 moved him to 11-under 131 and a one-shot lead over Austin Eckroat and Garrick Higgo on the Champion Course. Cauley was a passenger in a car that crashed in 2018 leaving him with injuries that forced him to spend over three years away from professional golf.


“There were a lot of times I thought my career was over,” said Cauley, 33. “I’m just happy I kept after it and didn’t stop trying. I saw a leaderboard coming down 18 and I knew if I birdied the hole, I would be leading. It feels great to be in this position.”

Rookie Nick Dunlap 8-under, recorded the first hole-in-one of his brief PGA career on the par-3 (8-iron,197 yards), 7th hole, to vault back into contention in just his 7th PGA TOUR start. His tee shot landed just 15 feet short of the hole and proceeded to roll straight in.

Thomas Detry (73 80), a Belgian golfer, playing both the PGA and European Tours, had a 6-putt on the 6th hole today, the most by any player on a single hole on Tour since Danny Lee 6-putted the 18th in round 3 of the 2020 U.S. Open. He ended up posting a score of 80 for his second-round, which was nine strokes over par.

Past Winners who missed the 2-under par cut: Sepp Straka -E, Sungjae Im +1, Padraig Harrington +2, Matt Kuchar +2.

Round 2: Top 5
1. Bud Cauley -11 (66 65)
T2. Austin Eckroat -10 (65 67)
T2. Garrick Higgo -10 (67 65)
T4. Kevin Yu -9 (66 67)
T4. Victor Perez -9 (67 66)


Shane Lowry 13-under nearly won at PGA National’s Honda Classic two years ago but lost the opportunity to tie Sepp Straka on the 72nd hole when a sudden downpour took away his last chance to tie the match and send it into extra holes.

“It’s funny because I didn’t know Sepp at all at the time,” Lowry said. “I used to tell him at the Ryder Cup that I used to not like him after that tournament, and I’ve become really friendly with him now, and he’s a great guy, and I get on very well with him.”


The Irishman has given himself a big chance to get that victory tomorrow, but he’s got company. David Skinns 13-under and Austin Eckroat 13-under were tied for the lead Saturday after third round. Lowry and Skinns had rounds of 66 to and Eckroat shot a 68.

Lowry is looking for his third victory on the PGA Tour. Skinns is trying for his first top-10 finish in 33 tour starts. He’s trying to become the tourney’s first winner from England since Luke Donald in 2006. It’s the first time he’s held a 54-hole co-lead in his career on the PGA Tour. Eckroat is seeking his first tour win in his 50th start.

The Headlines in the Irish Star prior to this week’s Cognizant Classic Read: “Rory McIlroy will be disappointed with anything but a win at the Cognizant Classic.

Things looked promising yesterday for McIlroy, who was 10 under, as he headed into the infamous Bear Trap, that he had played at 3-under in the 1st 2 rounds. It started out innocently enough with an unexpected bogey on the par 3 15th hole but a triple bogey on the 16th hole, from an errant approach shot that landed part-way into the water, saw him heading to the 18th at 6-under. A birdie on the 18th left him at 7-under tied for 26th.

Twenty-five players are within 5 strokes of the lead with a 15-way tie for 11th at 8-under.

Round 3: Top 5

T1. Shane Lowry -13 (67 67 66)
T1. Austin Eckroat -13 (65 67 68)
T1. David Skinns -13 (65 69 66)
T4. Jacob Bridgeman -10 (70 68 65)
T4. Min Woo Lee -10 (67 70 66)
T4. Martin Laird -10 (68 69 66)
T4. Victor Perez -10 (67 66 70)
T4. Kevin Yu -10 (66 67 70)


Play was moved to a rain delay at 12:49pm with Erik van Rooyen 14-under after 12 holes at the top of the leaderboard 1 stroke ahead of yesterday’s 3 leaders who have yet to tee off.

The Cognizant Classic final round resumed at 4:15pm and was again suspended at 6:35pm with 26 golfers still on the course. Austin Eckroat holds the tournament lead, at 15 under thanks to 2 birdies over his first seven holes.

Erik Van Rooyen, with a final-round (63) finished the tournament at 14 under followed by Knapp -13 (15), Mitchell -12 (F), Horschel -12 (17), Noren -12 (12), and Lowry -12 (5) at the top of the leaderboard. There were 8 players tied at 8-under. Two finished and six will be heading back out tomorrow.


The last time a PGA Tour event went to a Monday finish was the 2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, due to storms on the Monterey peninsula.

This morning’s 8am restart found sunny skies and a relatively dry golf course. With the final twosome headed to the 10th tee, only Min Woo Lee 14-under (12) has moved himself into contention moving into a 2nd place tie with van Rooyen -14 (63) and 2 shot behind Eckroat 16-under (11) who continues to add birdies to his scorecard.

It appears that Austin has everything going for him this morning as he slowly worked to the top of the leaderboard and after steering clear of trouble through the BearTrap and has now added himself as another First-time winner in this year’s 2024 Season.

Final Round Top 5
1. Austin Eckroat -13 (65 67 68 67)
2. Min Woo Lee -10 (67 70 66 67)
3. Erik van Rooyen -14 (65 71 70 63)
T4. Jake Knapp -13 (68 66 71 66)
T4. K.H. Lee -13 (69 66 70 66)
T4. Cameron Young -13 (65 69 71 66)
T4. David Skinns -13 (65 69 66 71)
T4. Shane Lowry -13 (67 67 66 71)

The winner of the 2024 Cognizant Classic is Austin Eckroat -17 under. He is the recipient of the first Cognizant Classic Trophy, a check for $1,620,000, and 500 FedExCup Points. This is Austin’s first PGA TOUR victory since joining the tour in 2018. His current earnings are 4,485,822 with today’s winnings added in.

When Austin was asked about his trip through the bear trap.

“You know happy with how I played the the bear trap. It’s not a fun finish whenever you have to hold on to the lead and then you sleep in the mid round and I’m just really happy with how I handled it. I just kept telling myself that I put myself in this position for a reason, so I’m just happy that I was able to perform.”

Tied for 2nd place at 14-under are Min Woo Lee and Erik van Rooyen they will split the 2nd and 3 rd place for a $801,000 check and 300 FedExCup points.

Bill Sangster, a life-long golf aficionado and former Sergeant in Marines, moved to Cape Cod in 1974 where he raised his family while working as educator with the Sandwich School System for 23 years. With his Falmouth home adjacent to Paul Harney’s Golf Course, Bill spent many days learning and playing the game of golf. He was a member of White Cliffs Country Club and Sandwich Hollows Country on Cape Cod. In 2018 he continued his love for the game of golf by moving to “The Villages” in Florida. He now will admit to anyone who asks that he is addicted to the game of golf! Bill can be reached at

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