Eckroat leads entering Monday finish at Cognizant

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Austin Eckroat left PGA National with a share of the lead Saturday. He left with the outright lead Sunday.

He’ll have to come back Monday to finish the job at the Cognizant Classic.

A Monday finish awaits at PGA National, after the final round of the opening event on the PGA Tour’s Florida Swing was interrupted by thunderstorms that brought nearly 2 inches of rain in a hurry Sunday afternoon and forced everyone off the course for 3 1/2 hours.

Eckroat was the leader at 15 under through seven holes, one shot ahead of Erik van Rooyen, who roared up the leaderboard by opening his round with six consecutive birdies on his way to an 8-under 63. He finished at 14-under 270, and now waits to see what’ll happen.

“Just a weird day,” Eckroat told Golf Channel.

It’s the first time the tour event at PGA National — known as the Honda Classic until this year — will have a Monday finish since 2015.

Van Rooyen is alone in second, and Jake Knapp — the winner last week in Mexico — was 5 under on his day through 15 holes, ending Sunday at 13 under and alone in third, two shots back.

Billy Horschel (5 under through 17) was in the group at 12 under, along with Keith Mitchell (65), Shane Lowry (who completed five holes) and Alex Noren (who completed 12 holes).

Van Rooyen started the day tied for 31st and seven shots off the 54-hole lead that was shared by Lowry, David Skinns and Eckroat — but needed only eight holes to catch them. He was 8 under on the day through 11 holes and the outright leader when the rain came, but even par following the restart.

“Being that far back, you know you have to make a run at it,” van Rooyen said. “The course is playing so soft right now. Getting off to a great start was awesome, but the rain delay probably didn’t help me much. I had so much momentum.”

And plans to play in the Seminole Pro-Am on Monday morning might have to be on hold; PGA National might be where he heads instead, just in case.

“I think it’ll be a good idea to keep an eye on it,” van Rooyen said.

Play was suspended at 12:50 p.m. with six twosomes yet to begin the round and 50 minutes before the final group — Lowry and Skinns — were scheduled to tee off. The longer the delay went, the more a Monday finish was inevitable, with sunset happening at 6:23 p.m.

“We had to suspend because it became too dangerous,” PGA Tour rules official Mark Dusbabek told Golf Channel. “The system came right up overhead. Lightning struck three miles away so we had to suspend and get the players to safety and the spectators.”

The delay lasted about 3 1/2 hours. Play resumed at 4:18 p.m.

Byeong Hun An shot a 6-under 65 to finish at 10-under 274, jumping from a tie for 48th to begin the day to a tie for 16th when the day ended. Also at 10 under: Rory McIlroy, who got done by putting out about 10 minutes after the horn that suspended play for darkness blared.

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