Nick Dunlap makes history with stunning win at The American Express

Nick Dunlap, a 20-year-old amateur from Alabama, achieved a remarkable feat on Sunday by winning The American Express, a PGA Tour event, by one shot over South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout. Dunlap became the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson in 1991, and the second-youngest winner on the tour in the last 90 years.

Dunlap, who is a sophomore at the University of Alabama, had received a sponsor’s exemption to play in the tournament, which was his fourth PGA Tour start. He had missed the cut in his previous three events, but he showed no signs of nerves or inexperience as he played superb golf throughout the week at the PGA West Stadium Course in La Quinta, California.

Nick Dunlap makes history with stunning win at The American Express
Nick Dunlap makes history with stunning win at The American Express

He shot rounds of 64, 66, 65 and 70 to finish at 29-under-par, breaking the tournament record by three shots. He also set a new PGA Tour record for the lowest 54-hole score by an amateur with 195. He made 33 birdies and only six bogeys in 72 holes, displaying a remarkable consistency and composure.

Dunlap said he was living his dream by winning on the PGA Tour, and thanked his family, friends, coaches and sponsors for their support. He also praised his fellow competitors, especially Bezuidenhout, who pushed him all the way to the end with a final-round 65.

“I can’t believe it. This is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little kid. To do it as an amateur is even more special. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and for everyone who has helped me along the way,” Dunlap said.

“I have a lot of respect for Christiaan. He’s a great player and a great person. He played amazing today and made me work hard for it. I’m glad I was able to hold him off and get the win,” he added.

A historic achievement for Dunlap

Dunlap’s victory was not only a personal triumph, but also a historic achievement for amateur golf. He became the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson, who won the Northern Telecom Open in 1991 as a 20-year-old junior at Arizona State University. Dunlap is also the second-youngest winner on the PGA Tour in the last 90 years, behind only Jordan Spieth, who won the John Deere Classic in 2013 at 19 years and 11 months.

Dunlap also joined an elite club of players who have won the U.S. Junior Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and a PGA Tour event as amateurs. He won the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2021 and the U.S. Amateur in 2022, becoming the first player to win both titles in consecutive years. The only other players who have achieved this feat are Tiger Woods, Bobby Jones and Johnny Goodman.

Dunlap said he was honored to be in the same company as some of the legends of the game, and hoped to inspire other young golfers to pursue their dreams.

“It’s incredible to be mentioned with those names. They are some of the greatest players of all time, and I look up to them a lot. I’m just trying to follow in their footsteps and do my best every day,” Dunlap said.

“I hope this win can motivate other amateurs and juniors to keep working hard and believe in themselves. Anything is possible if you have a passion and a purpose for what you do,” he added.

A bright future for Dunlap

Dunlap’s win earned him a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, as well as invitations to some of the biggest events in golf, such as the Masters, the PGA Championship, the Players Championship and the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He also moved up to No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and secured a spot on the U.S. Walker Cup team for 2023.

However, Dunlap said he was not in a hurry to turn professional, and wanted to enjoy his amateur status and college career for as long as possible. He said he would consult with his family and coaches before making any decisions about his future.

“I’m not thinking about turning pro right now. I’m having a lot of fun as an amateur and playing for Alabama. I love my team and my school, and I want to finish my education and win some more titles for them,” Dunlap said.

“I’ll talk to my parents and my coaches and see what’s best for me. But for now, I just want to celebrate this win and cherish this moment,” he added.

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