The golfing world is talking about Nick Dunlap after the 20-year-old amateur stunned the field at The American Express to clinch his maiden PGA Tour title; what next for the American as he weighs up whether or not to turn professional?
Watch the reaction from Nick Dunlap’s university friends as the amateur sinks the winning putt to win The American Express.
Nick Dunlap delivered a golfing fairy tale with his history-making win at The American Express, as the amateur upstaged the professionals to produce a storyline that captured the sporting world.
Dunlap claimed a dramatic one-shot victory to become the first amateur since Phil Mickelson in 1991 to register a PGA Tour title and just the seventh since World War II, with the win also seeing him jump a staggering 4,061 places to 68th in the latest Official Golf World Rankings.
The 20-year-old – who had missed the cut in his only three previous appearances in a professional event – was in the field on a sponsor’s exemption as the reigning US Amateur champion, where he ripped up the record books on his way to a career-changing victory.
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“I felt the script was already written,” Dunlap said immediately after a closing par completed victory. “It is so cool to be out here and experience this as an amateur. If you would have told me that, you know, come Wednesday night I would have a putt to win this golf tournament, I wouldn’t believe you.”
Dunlap’s rise to PGA Tour glory
Dunlap isn’t scarce of notable golfing claims to fame, having shot an incredible 11-under 59 at the age of 12 to win a Birmingham Golf Association junior event back in June 15, 2016.
Five years later he shot a 62 to book his spot at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Simmons Bank Open in May 2021, before registering a runners-up finish at the Junior Players Championship in September later that year.
Watch highlights of the final day of The American Express as Amateur Nick Dunlap battled off Justin Thomas and Sam Burns to become the first to win a PGA Tour event since Phil Mickelson in 1991.
He would go on to win AJGA Player of the Year in October 2021 before continuing his rise in June 2022 when he shot a 78-74 while making his major championship debut at the US Open at the age of 18 following his win at the U.S. Junior Amateur. The following year he collected his maiden collegiate title at the Linger Longer Invitational over amateur standout Christo Lamprecht, before qualifying for his second US Open in June 2023.
Dunlap, who last summer became the first player since Tiger Woods to clinch both the U.S. Junior and U.S. Amateur, competed as part of the US team that won the Walker Cup at St Andrews in September 2023, before producing the tied-lowest-round in college golf history with a 12-under 60 at the Hamptons Intercollegiate in New York.
He later starred while guiding the US to glory in the World Amateur Team Championship in October 2023, following in the footsteps of Justin Thomas as both a Walker Cup and World Amateur Team Championship winner.
What does Dunlap get for his win?
Pride, recognition and another platform off which to build, ultimately.
Given his amateur status, Dunlap does not take a single penny of the $8.4m pursue, nor does he secure any non-member FedExCup points.
A teary Nick Dunlap reflects on his result at The American Express after becoming the first amateur to win a PGA Tour event since Phil Mickelson in 1991.
In the meantime, second-placed Christiaan Bezuidenhout takes home $1,512,000 set aside for the top professional while collecting 300 FedExCup points. Dunlap’s 500 points as winner will not be allocated to the field or given to him retroactively should he turn professional.
Will Dunlap turn professional?
Dunlap can become a PGA Tour member at any point during the 2024 season, and is currently exempt into the Masters and U.S. Open – based on him staying amateur – as well as The Open Championship thanks to his U.S. Amateur win and The Players.
Should he decide not to turn professional, Dunlap will still be able to feature in full-field events as a winner on the PGA Tour, while only PGA Tour members can play in signature events.
The Sky Sports golf team take a deep-dive into 20-year-old university student Nick Dunlap’s swing as the amateur continues to take the PGA Tour by storm at The American Express.
“I don’t know,” said Dunlap of whether he will turn pro. “I have to take a second to let what just happened sink in a little bit. That’s a decision that’s not just about me. It affects a lot of people, and obviously I’m going to try to enjoy this.
“It’s a conversation I need to have with a lot of people before I make that decision.”
Will Dunlap play in the majors?
Winning the US Amateur last summer secured Dunlap a place in The Masters, the US Open and The Open, providing he stayed as an amateur, although his major status has changed since making his PGA Tour breakthrough.
Victory at The American Express means he will be able to play in The Masters and the PGA Championship as a PGA Tour winner, whether he turns professional or not, while his US Open spot also remains regardless of his status.
Dunlap’s exemption for The Open would disappear should he go professional ahead of the final men’s major of the year, although there would be a variety of ways he could still qualify for Royal Troon.
Breaking into the world’s top 50 or progressing through Final Qualifying would be two options for Dunlap to qualify as a professional, with the R&A set to confirm the exemptions for The 152nd Open in the coming weeks.
What else does Dunlap qualify for?
Dunlap will get to tee it up at The Players from March 14-17 at TPC Sawgrass, even if he stays as an amateur, plus get to play in all Signature Events if he turns pro and takes up PGA Tour membership.
The Signature Events include the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am from February 1-4 and the Genesis Invitational later that month, while Dunlap will also get to participate in Full-Field Events – even as an amateur – under the category of being a tournament winner this season.
Should Dunlap turn professional before the start of the 2025 PGA Tour season then he will be exempt from The Sentry, the opening event of the calendar year. He has 30 days after the end of this season to turn professional or he will have to wait until the next year for PGA Tour membership.
Dunlap is back in action again at the Farmers Insurance Open, live on Wednesday from 4.45pm on Sky Sports Golf. Stream PGA Tour golf and more on NOW