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Cauley seizes Cognizant lead


MIAMI (AFP) — Bud Cauley, back on the PGA Tour after a three year injury absence, produced two late birdies to grab the outright second-round lead at the Cognizant Classic at PGA National Resort on Friday.

The Floridian shot a six-under par round of 65 on the Champion course to move to 11-under for the tournament, a stroke ahead of Austin Eckroat and South African Garrick Higgo.

With light fading, Cauley sank a 15-footer on the par-4 16th for birdie and then finished off his round by chipping out of the rough to 11 foot to sink another birdie.

“It’s felt great. I’ve been hitting the ball solid. Short game has been sharp around here, which you need. You’re not going to hit every green,” Cauley said.

“I’ve been holing a lot of nice putts, which has been a lot of help,” he added.

Cauley returned to tour action at Scottsdale last month after his absence from a series of injuries and complications from a car accident in 2018.

The crash occurred at the 2018 Memorial Tournament and left him with six broken ribs, a collapsed right lung and fractured left leg.

He returned to play later that year but complications emerged in 2020 and he was forced to undergo surgery before a long rehab process.

“There were a lot of times where I thought that my career was over. To be back here playing and playing well, it’s nice. It just makes me that much more happy that I kept after it and didn’t stop trying,” he said.

The 33-year-old, who lives in Jacksonville and was cheered off the 18th by friends, was not totally surprised to find himself in contention so early into his return to competition.

“I gave myself enough time to prepare at home before I started playing again. I expected to come out and compete, and I felt like my game was in a good spot,” he said.

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