Nick Dunlap becomes first amateur to win PGA Tour event since 1991, turns pro


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Nick Dunlap, a sophomore at the University of Alabama, has a brilliant excuse for handing in assignments late this week. 

The Alabama native became the first amateur golfer to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson at the Tucson Open in 1991 when he sunk a 6-foot par putt on the 18th hole Sunday to win The American Express. 

Nick Dunlap posses with The American Express trophy

Nick Dunlap of the United States poses for a photo with the trophy after winning The American Express at Pete Dye Stadium Course Jan. 21, 2024, in La Quinta, Calif.  (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

“Everybody’s got doubts,” Dunlap said after the final round at the Pete Dye Stadium Course in La Quinta, California. 

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“I probably had a thousand different scenarios in my head of how today was going to go, and it went nothing like I expected. I think that was the cool part about it. That’s golf.” 

At 20 years old, Dunlap finished the day two under and just one shot ahead of Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

“I hit a lot of shots that I didn’t think I was going to hit, and then I hit some shots that went way better than I expected,” Dunlap said. “And the same thing with putting. Like I said, I just think that’s the cool part of golf.” 

Jay Seawell congratulates Nick Dunlap

Alabama head golf coach Jay Seawell congratulates Nick Dunlap, right, after Dunlap won The American Express tournament at PGA West, Dye Stadium Course Jan. 21, 2024, in La Quinta, Calif.  (Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Dunlap’s historic win marked the first time an amateur won a PGA Tour event in 33 years, and it was just the third time it happened since 1957. 

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A standout at Alabama, Dunlap finished the 2023 season leading the Crimson Tide with an average of 67 strokes per round. He is also the reigning U.S. amateur champion. 

“Yes. Probably won’t do it though,” Dunlap laughed when asked if he had homework to do after the win. 

The victory Sunday also secured Dunlap’s PGA Tour card, giving him the chance to go pro. Just days later, Dunlap announced he would be joining the tour. 

Nick Dunlap celebrates winning The American Express

Nick Dunlap of the United States reacts after winning The American Express at Pete Dye Stadium Course Jan. 21, 2024, in La Quinta, Calif. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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“It was the easiest hardest decision that I’ve ever had to make,” Dunlap said at a press conference Thursday. “I was very fortunate that everyone had the same opinion about it, and my teammates were awesome and very supportive. It goes back to the family that Alabama has. They were very supportive and wanted me to chase my dreams.”

Dunlap will make his professional debut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Feb. 1. He also earned a spot in the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open after winning the U.S. Amateur last summer. 

The Associated Press contributed to his report. 

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