Sáb. Feb 24th, 2024

Days after his rare win as an amateur on the PGA Tour, Nick Dunlap announced Thursday that he is turning pro and accepting membership on the tour.

With his victory Sunday at the American Express, Dunlap became the first amateur to win on tour since Phil Mickelson in 1991. The 20-year-old is only the fifth amateur to win on tour since 1950 and the second-youngest champion in the past 90 years. Jordan Spieth won the 2013 John Deere Classic when he was 19.

The University of Alabama sophomore had withdrawn from this week’s Farmers Insurance Open to evaluate his future and is set to make his professional debut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which begins Feb. 1.

«It was the easiest, hardest decision that I’ve ever had to make,» Dunlap said Thursday. «I was very fortunate that everyone had the same opinion about it, and my teammates were awesome and very supportive. It goes back to the family that Alabama has. They were very supportive and wanted me to chase my dreams.»

Dunlap’s victory gave him full-time PGA Tour membership through the 2026 season — he’ll be the youngest player on tour — and spots in lucrative signature-series events such as Pebble Beach and the Players Championship, which have purses of at least $20 million. He also is exempt into the Masters and PGA Championship and can play the U.S. Open as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion.

As an amateur, Dunlap had forfeited the $1.5 million winner’s purse for the American Express and the 500 FedEx Cup points that came with it.

«It’s a week today that the first round started, and a week ago, if you had told me that I had the opportunity to live out my dream as a 20-year-old — it’s pretty surreal,» said Dunlap, who plans to continue living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. «But it’s also scary. There’s a lot of changes.»

Dunlap said the hardest part of turning pro during the Crimson Tide’s golf season was telling his teammates this week that he wouldn’t be there for them.

«There’s going to be a script A [Alabama’s logo] on my bag forever,» Dunlap said.

An instant celebrity, Dunlap took calls from recently retired Alabama coach Nick Saban and golfing alum Justin Thomas after the victory. He said he leaned heavily on his family and coach Jay Seawell for opinions and guidance. The consensus feedback: «Go chase your dream.»

«I’ve known him since he was 10 years old when he came to golf camp,» Seawell said. «I’ve known his dream, and I’m honored that he gave us the opportunity to coach him.»

Information from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.


Facebook Comments Box