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Doubling back: Austin Eckroat didn’t anticipate being back in Stillwater

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Some kids want to be a doctor or a lawyer, but Oklahoma State men’s golfer Austin Eckroat always knew he wanted to be a professional golfer. And now that goal ー although delayed ー is just a few months away.

“I wasn’t one of those kids that dreamt of being an astronaut or something like that,” Eckroat said. “I was always dreaming of being a professional golfer. To think that it’s only a few months away is pretty crazy and cool. I remember hitting putts when I was five years old hitting putts and acting like I was winning the Masters and stuff like that.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck collegiate sports, Eckroat was already preparing to turn his attention toward the PGA Tour and not return to Stillwater. But after the season was cut short, he decided to make his return to college golf.

In March, Eckroat was already getting ready to leave behind Karsten Creek for Augusta National and try to become a PGA Tour member, but the world had different plans.

“It was pretty crazy how it all worked out,” Eckroat said. “I was planning on leaving. I already had everything moving and was already heading out the door just to finish out the year. I was hoping to get some exemptions. I made the decision to come back right around when they canceled the season.

“After talking with coaches and with the uncertainty of the PGA Tour non PGA Tour members weren’t going to get any starts. It was just one of those things, especially with (Qualifying School) being put on hold for a year, it wasn’t much of an option for when you turn pro.”

The Cowboys started its fall season, but it is also about to come to an end with the final scheduled event taking place Sunday and Monday in Carrollton, Texas. The Cowboys had a rough first outing of the season, but bounced back in the Big 12 Match Play tournament where they finished second to Baylor. OSU posted a 2-0-2 record in the event.

With the attention now almost turned to the spring season, Eckroat has some clear cut lofty goals for his team and himself.

“The main goal for me, individually, the overall priority is being top-5 in the PGA Tour University, that's the biggest goal,” Eckroat said. “Then comes Player of the Year, First Team All-American and I want to get a couple of wins. Those are the main goals. For team goals, I want to see us get to match play. If we can just get to match play, anything could happen. If we can get five of us going and make a run at nationals that would be a big goal.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com