SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – It’s been a big month for Austin Eckroat.
Not solely is the Oklahoma State senior and up to date Walker Cupper competing for one more NCAA Championship this week at Grayhawk Golf Club whereas additionally locking up a Korn Ferry Tour card by way of PGA Tour University on Monday night, he’s additionally formally off the market.
The 22-year-old Eckroat bought engaged to girlfriend Sally Merrill final week at Oklahoma State’s residence membership, Karsten Creek. Eckroat and Merrill have recognized one another since they had been 18 months outdated. They shared babysitters and stayed associates even when Merrill’s household moved from Edmond, Oklahoma, all the way down to Oklahoma City. Merrill, who attends Oklahoma, and the Cowboys star began relationship about two years in the past.
“Luckily, we found our ways back to each other and now we’re engaged,” Eckroat mentioned. “It’s crazy how that happens, isn’t it?”
Merrill and her household are half of a big contingent supporting Eckroat within the Arizona desert, a gaggle that additionally consists of Eckroat’s dad and mom, Steve and Natalie, his sister, Taylor, and almost a half-dozen aunts and uncles. They all wished to be current for Eckroat’s closing school match.
Eckroat introduced earlier this month that he could be turning professional following nationals, capping a embellished profession in Stillwater that’s included two victories, 15 top-10s and what is going to seemingly be 4 All-America honors. He additionally was part of the Cowboys’ 2018 NCAA title-winning crew.
“Oklahoma State has shaped and molded me into a man that I believe, and hopefully others believe, would make my parents proud,” Eckroat wrote in his farewell publish.
Steve Eckroat is definitely that. His household has had Oklahoma State soccer season tickets since he was 3 years outdated. Like his son, Steve was a talented junior participant with goals of taking part in golf for the Cowboys, however not like his son, Steve wasn’t adequate. He spent one yr at Oklahoma State as a scholar earlier than transferring to Oklahoma City to play golf.
Later on, Steve served as government director of the Oklahoma Golf Association, the place he hung out with Alan Bratton, then Oklahoma State’s affiliate coach and now males’s head coach. Bratton and Steve Eckroat traveled to St. Louis for the 2009 U.S. State Team Championship.
“I remember him telling me about his 10-year-old son and showing me golf swings,” Bratton mentioned. “From that point, I’ve been watching Austin progress. He’s been on a wonderful and just steady progression ever since.”
Austin, who grew up sporting Swinging Pete logos to each match, received a highschool state championship at Karsten Creek as a freshman, and shortly after he dedicated to the Cowboys. Not shockingly, the child with Oklahoma State soccer jerseys and posters on his bed room partitions didn’t critically think about every other packages.
“He always wanted to go to Oklahoma State because that was the only school he knew,” Steve Eckroat mentioned. “As he got older, he realized that you have to be really good to play there, so it just worked out that he kept getting better and better.”
Added Bratton: “We want the best from Oklahoma every year, and Austin was that guy. … You want a kid to want to be there, and he always wanted to be at Oklahoma State.”
His love for the varsity was a big cause why Austin didn’t flip professional final summer season. Another incentive to staying at school was PGA Tour University, which started this season and grants standing on the Korn Ferry Tour and the Tour’s different developmental excursions to the highest seniors on the finish of the NCAA Championship. Eckroat debuted at third within the PGA Tour U rankings and by no means dropped out of the highest 5 all season.
He is joined by Florida State’s John Pak, Georgia’s Davis Thompson, Arizona State’s Kevin Yu and Oklahoma’s Garett Reband as the highest 5 gamers who might be exempt for at the very least eight occasions on the Korn Ferry Tour this summer season and in addition obtain a ticket into closing stage of KFT Q-School later this yr.
Eckroat will make his professional debut subsequent week on the BMW Charity Pro-Am in Greer, South Carolina. Three others from the highest 5, apart from Pak, will be a part of Eckroat there. Pak is as a substitute taking part in the PGA Tour’s Palmetto Championship at Congaree.
While Eckroat known as it “one of the most stressful years” of his profession, his father mentioned it was nice observe for when his son turns professional and has a number of totally different factors standings to navigate. And now that he’s efficiently graduated from PGA Tour U, Austin Eckroat doesn’t have to fret about Monday qualifiers, and he’s additionally freed up extra when he receives what is going to seemingly be just a few PGA Tour exemptions. Getting to the KFT Finals is his important objective, however he wouldn’t thoughts doing what his former teammate Matthew Wolff did two summers in the past: win and earn his Tour card that method.
The better part is he’ll have a companion to start this new journey.
“It’s a lonely life out there, so them going out as a team made sense,” Steve Eckroat mentioned. “He and Sally make a lot of sense.”