20-year-old amateur phenom Nick Dunlap stunned the golf world on Sunday, conquering a loaded field at The American Express to become the first non-professional golfer to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson in 1991. But despite the historic achievement and record-breaking performance, Dunlap won’t receive a penny of the $1.5 million top prize.
- 20-year-old amateur Nick Dunlap won The American Express on the PGA Tour, becoming the first amateur winner since Phil Mickelson in 1991.
- Due to his amateur status, Dunlap is not eligible to collect the $1.5 million first place prize money.
- Dunlap shot a final round 2-under 70 to finish at 29-under par, one shot ahead of Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
- The University of Alabama sophomore broke the tournament’s 72-hole scoring record.
- The win earned Dunlap a spot on the PGA Tour through 2026 whenever he decides to turn pro.
Competing against the pros at PGA West’s Pete Dye Stadium Course, Dunlap carded a final round 2-under 70 to reach 29-under par for the tournament. That proved one slim shot better than second-place Christiaan Bezuidenhout’s 28-under.
The University of Alabama sophomore had his doubts along the way, imagining “a thousand different scenarios” that ultimately unfolded differently than he envisioned. Yet he leaned on his elite skillset honed as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion.
In the end, Dunlap’s mix of clutch putts and unexpected good shots paved the way for victory. “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,” he remarked. “And the same thing with putting.”
While the breakthrough moment marked Dunlap’s first PGA Tour triumph, his coach insisted they expected the success at some point. “We’re proud but we’re not surprised,” said Crimson Tide coach Jay Seawell. “He’s unbelievably talented and he has the mindset to do this kind of stuff.”
Dunlap’s winning score of 29-under also established a new tournament scoring record for the 72-hole event. Yet as an amateur, he is unable to accept any of the prize checks handed out.
Instead, runner-up Bezuidenhout took home the $1.512 million allocated for first place. The three golfers tied for third received payouts equivalent to a three-way tie for second typically worth $763,000 each.
"I felt the script was already written" 📝
Nick Dunlap reacts to becoming the youngest winning amateur since 1910 🏆pic.twitter.com/pewqdsi7D0
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) January 22, 2024
The bittersweet restrictions have marked all three rare instances of amateurs conquering the pros on the PGA Tour dating back to 1957. Nevertheless, Dunlap’s breakthrough signals a bright future for the college star once he decides to turn professional.
By winning as an amateur, Dunlap clinched special temporary membership on tour along with unlimited sponsor exemptions for 2024 events. He also now has the option to take up PGA Tour membership immediately or delay until 2025 or 2026.
In the wake of his watershed moment, the newly-crowned amateur king suggested he needs time to weigh his next move carefully. But the opportunity before him is clear.
“Starting the week, if you would have said, ‘hey, in five days you’re going to have a PGA Tour card…’ I would have looked at you sideways,” Dunlap told SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio.
Thanks to one spectacular week punching far above his weight class, the scratch golfer and Alabama student can now chart his own path to professional stardom.
Wherever that journey leads next, Dunlap has already etched his name into the history books with an against-all-odds victory for the ages at The American Express.