College Golfer Nick Dunlap Wins Historic victory on the PGA Tour, the first amateur to win in 33 years

4 min read

It hadn’t happened for 33 years since Phil Mickelson did it at the Northern Telecom Open back in 1991, then on Sunday night, University of Arizona student Nick Dunlap rewrote history by becoming the first amateur since the legendary ‘Lefty’ to win on the PGA Tour.

Dunlap’s successful amateur career

Like Mickelson, who was an undergraduate at the much-acclaimed Arizona State at the time, Dunlap had already won the US Amateur Championship and so while his victory at The American Express sent shockwaves around the golfing world, it was no huge surprise to those who have been following the collegiate game.

Becoming the youngest amateur winner on the Tour since 1911 having just turned 20 in December, Dunlap has showed maturity beyond his years throughout his time as a student-athlete

"I knew he was good enough. I knew he could handle it," said Dunlap's coach at Alabama, Jay Seawell. "It looked bleak with four to five holes to play, but that was Dunlap time. He does that at home. He's done it his whole life and he did it out here on the PGA Tour today, too."

His recent achievements already suggested he was destined for the top, and with his victory in the US Amateur at Cherry Hills, he joined Tiger Woods as the only golfers to win both that title and the US Junior Amateur. Last October, he helped Team USA to success at the World Amateur Team Championship in Abu Dhabi, while rising to No.3 in the world amateur rankings. He also starred in the Walker Cup in St Andrews last Fall and was the Crimson Tide’s leading player in 2023, with a hugely impressive scoring average of 67.00 strokes per round. Prior to starting university, he was named the 2021 American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Boys Golfer of the Year.

University of Alabama Golf alumni

Victory in California was made even sweeter by sophomore Dunlap playing the final round with University of Alabama alum Justin Thomas, who he’d beaten by a shot on day three having carded an incredible 12-under par round of 60. “I didn’t think I was going have to deal with a freaking college kid shooting 60 today,” quipped Thomas after his own 61. Dunlap becomes the 11th different Alabama golfer to win a PGA Tour event with his victory (36 total victories).

Major qualification and future prospects

Victory at The American Express means Dunlap will be able to play in The Masters and the PGA Championship as a PGA Tour winner, while his US Open spot also remains regardless of his status.

Following Phil Mickelson’s historic amateur victory, he has gone on to win a further 44 events on the PGA Tour, including 6 Major Championships. While it would be an incredible achievement for anyone to get near one of the all-time great’s record, few would be against college golf’s newest star going on to become a multiple major champion and serial tour winner.

Looking to follow in Nick Dunlap’s footsteps?

Aspiring young golfers can take their first step towards a college golf scholarship by taking part in the FirstPoint USA Golf Showcase at Abu Dhabi Golf Club from 14 – 16 February.

Open to male and female golfers aged 14 to 22 years old with a handicap limit of 8 and 12 respectively, the WAGR counting event takes place over 54 holes on the iconic national course. FirstPoint USA’s Head of Golf Callum Macaulay, an alum of Ole Miss and a former European Tour player, will be on hand to offer his insights on the college golf experience, while our Golf Talent Manager Heather MacRae, who attended San Diego State University and competed on the Ladies European Tour, will also be in the UAE to provide her expertise to players and current golfing clients at the event.

To register your place, click here.

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