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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Dunlap makes history at American Express 

Courtesy of UA Athletics

While most Alabama students spent their weekend in Tuscaloosa, Nick Dunlap opted for La Quinta, California, where he made history by becoming the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour in 32 years. 

The last amateur to win on the Tour was Phil Mickelson in 1991 when he won the Northern Telecom Open. Dunlap, who won at just 20 years and 29 days old, is the eighth youngest Tour event winner ever and is the youngest to win in over ten years since Jordan Spieth, who won the John Deere Classic at age 19 in 2013.  

Dunlap took The American Express with a one-shot victory over South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout at the multi-course tournament in California. His triumph included a bogeyless 12-under 60 in round three and a clutch par save on the tournament’s final hole. 

The sophomore entered the final round with a three-stroke lead, which vanished by The Back Nine. Entering the 17th hole, Dunlap was tied with fellow American Sam Burns; Dunlap safely found the putting surface where Burns miss-hit his tee shot on the 168-yard Par 3, finding the water. Dunlap finished his two-putt for a par while Burns fell back with a double bogey.  

While Dunlap was playing 17, Bezuidenhout birdied the last hole, pulling within one stroke of the Alabama prodigy. 

Nursing a one-shot lead on the 72nd hole, Dunlap’s tee shot flared to the right, and so did the approach shot, meaning the 20-year-old was in scramble mode on the final hole. Dunlap hit a solid wedge six feet from the cup, and with a must-make par putt, Dunlap sunk it in the heart of the cup and followed it with a triumphant fist pump. 

His mother, Charlene, his father, Jim, and his girlfriend, Izzy, greeted him on the 18th green ensuing the victory. Alabama Golf’s head coach Jay Seawell was also in attendance and treated Dunlap with a milkshake, a tradition that Seawell has whenever the Crimson Tide claim victory. 

“I’m still in shock. I really am,” Dunlap said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. The amount of cameras and people and people on the green and interviews, no, it hasn’t sunk in at all.” 

Despite Dunlap’s humility, people who have been around Dunlap know the star power he possesses. His name has long been cemented in Alabama golf lore, as he broke the course record at Birmingham’s Highland Park Golf Course at the mere age of 12. 

In the summer of 2023, Dunlap won the US Amateur Championship and competed in the Walker Cup in the fall. At the Hamptons Intercollegiate in the fall of 2023, Dunlap became the 18th golfer in NCAA history to shoot a 60. In his time at Alabama, Dunlap earned All-SEC first-team and SEC All-Freshman honors and led the Crimson Tide to multiple tournament wins. 

This success isn’t a shocker, but winning on the PGA Tour takes a certain temperament. In an interview with NBC, Former Alabama Football head coach Nick Saban — who has personally taken putting lessons from the 20-year-old — says Dunlap is built for it. 

“It’s no surprise to me because he has a great work ethic, he’s a great person and pays attention to detail,” Saban said. “He doesn’t get flustered at anything. You’ve got to have the right disposition to play golf, and I certainly think he has it.” 

With the victory, Dunlap has earned PGA Tour membership through the 2026 season. If Dunlap chooses to turn pro, his career as a member of the Crimson Tide would end.  

As for Dunlap’s teammates from Alabama, they were ecstatic. Fifth-year player Cannon Claycomb posted a video on his X of Alabama on the team bus in pandemonium after Dunlap sunk the winning putt. 

As fate would have it, former Alabama golfer Justin Thomas was paired with Dunlap and his caddie, Hunter Hamrick, a fellow former Alabama player, in the final round. When asked about playing a fellow Crimson Tide golfer, Dunlap said it was a great experience.  

“I think it’s a family. Everybody that goes to Alabama,” Dunlap said. “Justin had a lot of cool things to say. It’s like, ‘Hey man, you’re a PGA Tour winner forever, and just let that soak in. Let everything around you, the people, the moment, just take a second and let it all in.’” 

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