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Austin Eckroat pulled away from a crowded leaderboard in the final round of the 2024 Cognizant Classic to secure his first career victory on the PGA Tour. Getting to 17 under, the Oklahoma State product clipped Min Woo Lee and Erik Van Rooyen by three strokes and ultimately cruised to the finish line at treacherous PGA National on Monday morning.

With his win, Eckroat has secured playing privileges on the PGA Tour for the next two years and access to signature events for the remainder of 2024. He also receives an invitation to the 2024 Masters for the first time in his career and will tee it up at Augusta National next month in what will be only his third major championship appearance. In his last major start, Eckroat claimed a top 10 at the 2023 U.S. Open.

The 25-year-old began the round in a share of the lead with Shane Lowry and David Skinns and utilized two birdies in his first seven holes to grab the lead before play was suspended due to darkness Sunday. He led Van Rooyen, who was done with his tournament, by a stroke when play resumed Monday morning.

Four straight pars — including one on the accessible par-5 10th — injected some life into the tournament. Van Rooyen still had an outside chance for a playoff, but it was Lee who emerged as Eckroat's greatest threat. 

The charismatic Australian added a birdie on No. 9 before the big bird landed on the 10th. Another birdie from the blade of Lee came on the 12th and finalized a four-hole stretch in which he played 4 under. Lee climbed within one of Eckroat who was stuck in neutral before his iron play heated up.

Eckroat's midiron approach from 175 yards on the par-4 12th gave way to the leader's first birdie of the day and third of his final round. Another came on the short 13th and ballooned his lead to three in a short 30-minute window. 

A successful trip around the Bear Trap featured a birdie plus a couple pars and put this tournament on ice. Eckroat's reward was a stress-free walk up the somewhat stressful par-5 18th and a brand-new trophy to put on his mantle. Grade: A+

Here is a breakdown for the rest of the leaderboard at the 2024 Cognizant Classic

T2. Min Woo Lee (-14): One wouldn't necessarily think Lee would thrive on Florida golf courses given the penal nature for wayward misses, but he continues to defy conventional wisdom. The Australian was a monster from tee to green on the week and followed up an eight-birdie performance Saturday with five birdies and an eagle in his final round. His mistakes ultimately added up, but this is a really nice finish for a really good player who struggled relative to expectations on the West Coast. Lee plays great in big-time events and should be licking his chops for the Players Championship where American fans were introduced to him a season ago. Grade: A

T4. Cameron Young (-13): Rounds of 65 and 66 sandwiched a couple mediocre rounds for the former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Young struck the ball nicely all week, but the biggest call for optimism comes on the greens as he gained strokes putting for the third straight tournament. The uptick with the putter has led to quality results with a top 10 at the WM Phoenix Open, top 20 at the Genesis Invitational and now this top-five finish. If that club continues to cooperate for Young, he should continue to knock on the door of that first career win and maybe even knock it down at this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational. Grade: A-

T4. Shane Lowry (-13): The Irishman was the big name out of the trio of 54-hole leaders, but he did not play like it. Lowry struggled in the final round after three days of brilliant iron play and became a bit of a non-factor down the stretch Monday with three bogeys across his first 11 holes and a double bogey on the 15th. It represents another close call at PGA National for Lowry who has now played in one of the final two groups in the final round three straight years. He remains winless in the United States since the 2015 WGC Bridgestone Invitational which is baffling. Grade: B+

T21. Rory McIlroy (-10): McIlroy stood on the 15th tee Saturday at 10 under and ultimately finished the week at that very number. The main culprit came in the form of a seven on the par-4 16th marking McIlroy's third straight tournament with a triple bogey on his scorecard. The rest of the tournament was very solid as he drove the ball like a stallion and led the field in strokes gained off the tee. His iron play and putting left a little to be desired, but it is clear he is ramping up for these next two weeks and one in particular in April. Once he gets the big scores out of his system, McIlroy should start contending again. Grade: C+

"A week that could have been," McIlroy said. "I felt like most of my play was a bit better than what the result suggested. That bad hole on 16 yesterday, a few sloppy mistakes here and there. Overall the game seems to be trending in the right direction. I drove the ball great again this week. I led the field in strokes gained off the tee at Riv. Probably going to do that again this week. That's the foundation of my game. When that's good, I just need some of the rest of the pieces to fall into play. Hopefully they can over the next couple weeks."

T41. Rickie Fowler (-7): The transition to Florida could not have come at a better time for Fowler. He came into this week ranked 174 out of 188 players in total strokes gained on the season and has generally struggled since his win last summer in Detroit. Fowler got caught in the bad end of the weather draw but battled tough and signed for back-to-back 67s in the middle rounds. This came courtesy of some solid tee-to-green play and may propel him into a decent Florida swing before his return to the Masters. Grade: C-