Former Spain Park golfer Nick Dunlap wins first PGA Tour event, becomes first amateur to win in 33 years
Published 10:28 pm Sunday, January 21, 2024
By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor
LA QUINTA, Calif. – After making history back in August 2023 by winning the U.S. Amateur, Nick Dunlap continued his rapid rise through the golf ranks by completing another historic feat.
The former Spain Park golfer and current Greystone Golf and Country Club member won The American Express at PGA West on Sunday, Jan. 21 to earn his first win on the PGA Tour.
“It’s everything that I dreamed of,” Dunlap said. “Just to have a chance on the last hole to win a PGA Tour event is really special.”
The victory, which came on his fifth Tour start and his first time making the cut, was the first PGA Tour win by an amateur since Phil Mickelson in 1991. At age 20, he is also now the youngest amateur to win on the PGA Tour since 1910.
Dunlap emerged from a crowded field of golfers such as Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler, Zach Johnson and Will Zalatoris to shoot a 29-under-par and defeat Christiaan Bezuidenhout by one stroke. He also broke the tournament’s scoring record.
After entering The American Express on a sponsor’s exemption, he earned his way into contention by shooting a 64 in the first round and a 65 in the second round to sit in second place and two shots behind leader Sam Burns.
On moving day on Saturday, Dunlap surged into the lead with one of his best rounds to date.
He shot a 12-under-par 60 at the La Quinta Country Club, including an eagle on No. 6, to take a three-shot lead over Thomas going into the final round on Sunday.
He struggled initially on the Pete Dye Stadium Course in the first nine holes of the final round, which led to him losing his lead.
However, he recovered on the back-nine to shoot a 2-under-par 70 and benefitted from a pair of double bogeys by Burns to regain the lead and take the victory.
Dunlap celebrated in-person with his family and girlfriend, who were in attendance for both the third and fourth rounds, as well as his golf coach at the University of Alabama, Jay Seawell.
Dunlap was paired with Alabama alumni Thomas in the final round and also received support from the Crimson Tide community throughout the weekend and after the win, including former Alabama football coach Nick Saban who called into the Golf Channel broadcast on Sunday.
Dunlap also received support from his hometown on social media, including from the Spain Park Boys Golf team, which posted their congratulations on X (formerly Twitter).
“The amount of people that came out and supported me, and not only them, the support I got from everyone here was really cool,” Dunlap said.
The win comes after Dunlap’s win in the 2023 U.S. Amateur, which made him the second golfer along with Tiger Woods to win both the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Amateur. He also played for Team USA in its Walker Cup and President’s Cup wins in 2023.
With his first victory on the PGA Tour, if Dunlap decides to turn pro, he will be given his PGA Tour card and have his membership guaranteed from 2024-2026, as well as be automatically entered into all of the Tour’s Signature Events in 2024, the Masters, The Players Championship and PGA Championship.
However, his U.S. Amateur win has already secured him exemptions into the 2024 Masters, U.S. Open and British Open, so if he remains at Alabama, he will still be able to play in those tournaments and can take up Tour membership in 2025.