Eckroat leads, van Rooyen in hunt at rain-delayed Cognizant Classic

Miami: Austin Eckroat was clinging to a one-shot lead when darkness halted play on Sunday at the US PGA Tour's Cognizant Classic, which was headed for a Monday finish after thunderstorms stopped play for three and a half hours.

Overnight co-leader Eckroat had back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth and was 15-under for the tournament through seven holes when darkness fell.

He and overnight co-leaders Shane Lowry of Ireland and David Skinns of England didn't tee off until after the lengthy thunderstorm delay.

Eckroat called it "just a weird day."

"Mother Nature, there's nothing you can do about it," Eckroat said. "I almost didn't think we were going to play at all today, so I kind of shut off for a little bit and then I had to get back into competitive mode."

Lowry, the 2019 Open Champion, slipped down the leaderboard with a bogey at the fifth shortly before darkness halted play.

Skinns, chasing a first title at 42, had bogeys at the first and third.

South African Erik van Rooyen made a big charge before the storms struck, opening with birdies at his first six holes on the way to an eight-under par 63 that put him in the clubhouse on 14-under 270.

American Jake Knapp was 13-under with three to play and Keith Mitchell was in the clubhouse at 12-under after a final-round 65.

Van Rooyen was delighted to turn things around on Sunday after a third round that left him feeling "slightly crabby" over the shots he thought he left on the course.

"Feeley, my caddie, tells me 'Bro, you don't know what's going to happen, you might birdie the first seven tomorrow,' and we almost did that!" van Rooyen said.

Van Rooyen's longest birdie putt from his opening six was a 13-footer at the third. He added birdies at eight and 10 before play was halted, his first miscue coming after play resumed when he was unable to get up and down from a greenside bunker at the par-three 15th.

He rolled in a 30-footer to birdie 17, but had to scramble to save par at the par-five 18th after his second shot found a cart path left of the bunkers guarding the left of the green.

"It's hard," he said of coming back from the delay. "The greens were so much slower coming back. There's so many little adjustments you need to make.

"That shot I just hit on 18 from the left of the green there was so wet.

"But I want to call myself a pro golfer, I need to be able to adapt to that. I'm really pleased with today's round.

"If I don't end up winning this tournament, I certainly don't think it's because of the rain delay today."

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