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May 23, 2024

Amateur Dunlap Shoots Historic 60 to Take Lead at American Express

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Jan 21, 2024

Alabama Sophomore on Verge of Becoming First Amateur PGA Tour Winner Since 1991

Amateur golfer Nick Dunlap made history on Saturday, firing a stunning 12-under par 60 during the third round of the 2024 American Express to take a three shot lead entering the final round. If the 20-year-old University of Alabama sophomore can close out the victory on Sunday, he would become the first amateur winner on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson in 1991.

Dunlap’s 60 ties the PGA Tour’s all-time low score by an amateur, matching the mark set by Doug Ghim at the 2017 Travelers Championship. The incredible round included 9 birdies and an eagle, showcasing Dunlap’s world-class ball striking and putting.

“I really had no expectations coming into this week. I’m just trying to soak it all in and enjoy this incredible opportunity,” said a shocked Dunlap after his round. “If I can finish off the win tomorrow, it would be a dream come true.”

Spectacular Third Round Vaults Dunlap Atop Stacked Leaderboard

Dunlap began the third round at 15-under par, four shots back of 36-hole leader Sam Burns. But he wasted no time making up ground on the PGA Tour veteran, going out in 8-under 28 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course thanks to seven birdies and an eagle on the par-5 5th hole.

After making the turn in 28, Dunlap cooled off slightly on the back nine at La Quinta Country Club, but still played a bogey-free 30 to sign for a 12-under 60. His 21-under 195 total gives him a three shot cushion over Burns (67) heading into Sunday.

“I caught fire with my irons early and just kept the momentum going all day,” added Dunlap. “The putter was working too which is a great combination. I’ll try to keep it rolling tomorrow.”

World No. 3 Justin Thomas sits solo third at 16-under after shooting 65 in round three, while journeyman Beau Hossler (64) is alone in fourth another shot back at 15-under.

Amateurs to Win PGA Tour Events

If Dunlap can close out his epic performance with a victory on Sunday, he would join an elite group of amateurs to win on golf’s top circuit:

Year Tournament Winner Score
1991 Northern Telecom Open Phil Mickelson -17
1983 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic John Horne -8
1971 The Olympic Club Invitational John Schlee E
1970 Cajun Classic Open Invitational Bert Yancey -18

Mickelson was just 20 years old when he claimed his first of 45 PGA Tour wins at the 1991 Northern Telecom Open, while he was still an amateur at Arizona State. 33 years later, Dunlap now has a chance to match Lefty’s remarkable accompliment.

Final Round Tee Times

The final round groupings at the 2024 American Express were recently announced, with the last tee time of Dunlap, Burns and Thomas sure to draw an immense gallery:

10:30 a.m: Michael Kim, Dylan Wu
10:40 a.m: Trevor Cone, Thomas Detry
10:50 a.m: Joseph Bramlett, Dean Burmester
11:00 a.m: Justin Suh, Austin Eckroat
11:10 a.m: Nick Hardy, Alex Smalley
11:20 a.m: Beau Hossler, J.T. Poston
11:40 a.m: Justin Thomas, Nick Dunlap (a), Sam Burns

With over 500 FedEx Cup points and a $1.4 million paycheck on the line, Dunlap will have plenty of nerves battling PGA Tour stars Burns and Thomas with everything at stake in the final round. But the even-keeled Alabama sophomore has proven he has the game to hang with the pros through 54 holes.

Can he close out the unfathomable win on Sunday? Tune in to find out!

What a Dunlap Win Would Mean

A victory by amateur Dunlap at the American Express would be truly historic, with enormous implications going forward:

  • Become 1st amateur champion on PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson in 1991
  • Claim $1.4 million paycheck (would be donated to charity as an amateur)
  • 500 FedEx Cup points (would be vacated)
  • Earn invitation to 2025 Masters Tournament
  • Likely earn invitations to the 2024 U.S. Open and Open Championship
  • Immediate option to turn pro and accept PGA Tour membership

As the current U.S. Amateur champion, Dunlap’s schedule is already jam-packed with amateur golf’s most prestigious events over the next year. But a win this week would open up even more doors moving forward.

Most importantly, it would earn Dunlap instant PGA Tour membership if he decides to forgo his final two years at Alabama and turn pro. Unlike Mickelson who stayed amateur after his breakthrough win in 1991, Dunlap would likely take the money and opportunities.

Will Dunlap Stay Composed With History In Reach?

Despite holding animmense lead over a world-class field, Dunlap has seemed unfazed through three rounds of stellar golf. The U.S. Amateur champion has relished the opportunity to test his game against the pros, taking a relaxed approach.

“I’m just going to stick to my game and not worry about the people I’m playing with or what’s on the line,” Dunlap commented. “If I can stay within myself and focus on executing each shot, I should have a chance coming down the stretch.”

Veterans like Thomas, Burns and Hossler will surely apply pressure on the 20-year old inexperienced amateur. But Burns and Thomas have already gained respect for Dunlap’s polished all-around game after getting dusted by him through three rounds.

“What Nick has done so far is really impressive,’ said Thomas after Saturday’s third round. “He looks extremely calm and his game is clearly PGA Tour ready. I’m excited to see how he handles the nerves tomorrow with everything at stake. He’s earned the right to go win this thing.”

If Dunlap finishes the job, he would extinguish any doubts about his world-class talent and become the hottest young prospect in golf heading into 2024.

Mickelson Praises Young Guns on PGA Tour

While rivals on the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series have criticized young players on the PGA Tour in recent months, American Express tournament host Phil Mickelson went out of his way to praise the under-25 stars this week.

“What we’re seeing this year from the next generation is truly remarkable,” said Mickelson after his round on Saturday. “Guys like Nick Dunlap, Ludvig Aberg, Caleb Surratt and Min Woo Lee have such polished all-around games already. The future of the PGA Tour is in good hands with them leading the way.”

Mickelson knows first-hand how difficult it is for an amateur to win on Tour, having done it himself back in 1991 shortly after turning 20 years old. The fact that Dunlap is on the cusp of matching that incredible accomplishment proves the young Alabama star deserves the praise.

Surratt (T11), Lee (T27) and Aberg (T43) are all inside the top 45 and ties heading into Sunday as well, backing up Lefty’s comments. Dunlap may be grabbing all the headlines, but the American Express leaderboard is filled with rising young talent.

All Eyes on Dunlap During Final Round

The golf world will be Fixed on Dunlap during Sunday’s final round, watching anxiously to see if the storied Alabama program can produce the first amateur PGA Tour winner in over 30 years.

With Fowler, Thomas, Spieth and NCAA rival Burns trailing in his wake, the humble yet fiery competitor is on the verge of a monumental breakthrough victory for himself and college golf. Expect the crowds to swell even larger on Sunday.

Can the steely-eyed Dunlap ignore the immensity of the moment and cap off a week he’ll never forget? Tune in to watch history in the making at the 2024 American Express!

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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