North Shelby’s Nick Dunlap named Alabama’s Amateur Athlete of the Year

Published 12:44 pm Saturday, June 8, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

A whirlwind year for Nick Dunlap has only gotten bigger as he is now the winner of one of the biggest awards in the state of Alabama.

The former Spain Park golfer and current Greystone Golf and Country Club member was named the Amateur Athlete of the Year by the Alabama Sportswriters Association on Saturday, June 8 ahead of its annual convention.

He ran away with the vote after earning over half of the first-place votes from the media, winning over a talented field that included Alabama basketball’s Mark Sears, Auburn basketball’s Johni Broome and Jacksonville State bowling national champion Rebecca Hagerman.

He is just the second male golfer to win the award and the first since Jerry Pate won 50 years ago in 1974.

Dunlap won the 2023 U.S. Amateur in August to become just the second golfer after Tiger Woods to win both the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Junior Amateur. He won the Junior Amateur in 2021.

As a result, he entered his sophomore season at Alabama as the No. 1 ranked amateur golfer in the world. He was Alabama’s top golfer in the fall with an average score of 67 and won stroke play medalist honors at the SEC Match Play.

However, it was his history-making performance at the PGA Tour’s The American Express in January that made national headlines.

Dunlap was the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson in 1991 after he earned a tournament-record 29-under-par to win The American Express by one stroke.

He defeated some of the top golfers in the world like Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler, Zach Johnson and Will Zalatoris to take the victory.

After entering the tournament 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.

The win gave Dunlap the opportunity to claim a PGA Tour card if he turned professional. He decided to join the PGA Tour days later at an emotional press conference and made his first professional start at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Since turning pro, Dunlap has made 11 starts on tour and made the cut six times. He finished tied-for-11th at the Houston Open, tied-for-24th at the Wells Fargo Championship and tied for 30th at the Byron Nelson.

This year, Dunlap has also made major starts at The Masters and PGA Championship and played in The Players Championship.

Dunlap started his high school golf career at Spain Park before he was homeschooled ahead of his collegiate career with the Crimson Tide.