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Cognizant Classic storylines: Bear Trap bites Rory McIlroy in Round 3

Here’s a look at some of the top storylines through three rounds of the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches, per the Golf Channel research department:

Trio tied at the top

Shane Lowry, David Skinns, and Austin Eckroat share the 54-hole lead at 13 under par. They are three strokes ahead of a group of five players tied for fourth at 10 under par (Jacob Bridgeman, Min Woo Lee, Martin Laird, Kevin Yu, and Victor Perez). There are a total of 25 players at or within five strokes of the lead entering Sunday.

Lowry looks to bring it home

Shane Lowry shot a third-round 66 to share the lead and is seeking a measure of revenge at PGA National. The Irishman finished T-5 here last year, but it was a runner-up finish in 2022 that left a bad taste in his mouth. Lowry headed to the 18th tee in the final round tied for the lead with Sepp Straka. Straka, playing in the group ahead, hit a 334-yard drive moments before a downpour came. Lowry, teeing off in the worst of the storm, only hit his tee shot 241 yards and was unable to match Straka’s birdie .

Lowry after his round today: “It’s funny because I didn’t know Sepp at all at the time. 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. I always say golf never owes you anything. I came up short that day. I’ve come up short before. I’ve been on the better end of things before. You just go out there and do your best and what will be will be sort of thing.”

Lowry is in next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational field on a sponsor exemption. A win here on Sunday would get him into all remaining signature events in 2024.

McIlroy struggles after a tough lie from the water
Rory McIlroy had a rough go of it on the 16th hole after trying to hit out of the water at the Cognizant Classic in the Palm Beaches.

McIlroy bitten by the Bear Trap

Rory McIlroy made the turn 1 over par Saturday before making birdies on Nos. 10, 12, and 13 to get firmly in contention. That momentum he generated was stifled when he got to the Bear Trap. McIlroy made a bogey on the par-3 15th before disaster struck on the par-4 16th hole, where his second shot found the water. The world No. 2 attempted to hit his 3rd shot from the water only to have it roll back in. He eventually took a drop and failed to get up and down on the way to a 7. McIlroy enters the final round in a tie for 26th at 7 under par, six shots back.

Skinns in unfamiliar position

David Skinns shot a bogey-free 5-under-par 66 on Saturday and holds a share of the 54-hole lead for the first time in his PGA Tour career. The 42-year-old Englishman has never posted a top-25 finish on the PGA Tour (this week is his 33rd start). Skinns’ best finish in his 2021-22 rookie season was T-29 in the 2021 RSM Classic, which matched his career best finish (also finished T-29 in the 2014 Puerto Rico Open). Skinns had a strong Korn Ferry Tour campaign in 2023 that included his third career KFT win at the Club Car Championship in March. He finished 12th on the standings to earn his 2024 PGA Tour card.

Skinns chasing the dream at Cognizant Classic
David Skinns wants to make every moment as good as it can be as he goes into the final round with a share of the lead at the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches at PGA National Resort's Champion Course.

Eckroat confident going into final round

Austin Eckroat shot a third-round 68 and enters the final round in a share of the lead for the second time in his PGA Tour career. Eckroat’s previous 54-hole co-lead was at last year’s CJ Cup Byron Nelson where he shot a final-round 65 and finished in a tie for second place.

Eckroat on his previous experience with a 54-hole co-lead: “Yeah, that week I really played well on Sunday. I shot 6 under on Sunday and Jason Day shot 9 [under] and beat me by one. I’m really happy with how I handled the situation, and I think it gives me confidence going into tomorrow.”