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2023 AT&T Byron Nelson Saturday leaderboard, scores at TPC Craig Ranch

Austin Eckroat lines up a putt on the first green during the third round of the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Before heading to TPC Craig Ranch this week, Austin Eckroat made a stop at home.

He has been tinkering with his putting for quite some time. While home, his high school putter caught his eye. He decided to bring it with him this week, and he ended up putting it in the bag,

Boy, has that paid off.

Eckroat leads the field in Strokes Gained: Putting, and it was his putter that guided him to a career round of 8-under 63. He sits tied for the lead at 16 under heading to Sunday.

“It’s kind of been holding me back, the putter has been a little bit,” Eckroat said. “I just grabbed it from the garage when I stopped home for a day and it looked good, so I thought I would give it a run.

“It’s working out.”

On the greens, Eckroat has gained 6.7 strokes. He also leads the field in total Strokes Gained with 18 holes to play.

Eckroat birdied his first two holes Saturday, and after a par at No. 3, he birdied three straight. On the par-3 seventh, his tee shot drifted into a swell short and left of the creek. After an awkward pitch, he left his third short of the pin, and his putt lipped out.

The double doesn’t look pretty on the scorecard, but it was his only blemish. He proceeded to birdie Nos. 8 and 9 to turn in 5-under 31.

Then on No. 11, he buried a 31-foot par putt to continue the momentum, and on the next hole, he drilled a 21 footer for birdie.

“Getting a putt like that to go, you feel like you stole something,” he said. “Keeps the momentum going.”

Eckroat, a 24-year-old PGA Tour rookie from Oklahoma State, came into the week with one top-10 finish this season. He has missed the cut in 10 of his 18 starts.

He also sits on top of the leaderboard with 18 holes to play.

“You put yourself in this position, and you kind of feel like a win is the only way that it’s a successful week,” Eckroat said. “But just go out tomorrow and try to play the best I can and see what happens.”


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