Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Nick Dunlap is turning pro.

The 20-year-old Alabama sophomore, who last Sunday became the first amateur winner on the PGA Tour in over three decades, tearfully announced Thursday that he is foregoing the remainder of his college eligibility and accepting his Tour membership in time for next week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the first full-field signature event of the season.

“A week ago today, if you told me I’d have the opportunity to live out my dream as a 20-year-old — it’s pretty surreal. But it’s also scary, there’s a lot of changes,” Dunlap said from Tuscaloosa, where he said he would continue to live in the near future.

“It was the easiest, hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, by far.”

A day before joining the pro ranks, Dunlap jumped from third to No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He also is currently the top-ranked player in Division I golf following a fall season in which he won the SEC Fall Preview and finished second at the Hamptons Intercollegiate, an event where Dunlap lipped out a putt for the first 59 in college golf history.

Dunlap received a sponsor exemption into last week’s American Express in Palm Springs, California, and fired a third-round 60 to enter Sunday with a three-shot lead. He ended up winning by one to do something that hadn’t been done on Tour since Phil Mickelson captured the 1991 Tucson Open as an amateur.

While Mickelson opted to return to Arizona State, Dunlap will take a different path. Prior to turning pro, Dunlap was already in this year’s Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship courtesy of him winning last summer’s U.S. Amateur – his victory made him the only player besides Tiger Woods to win both the Am and the U.S. Junior Amateur.

“That’s something that it doesn’t just affect me; it affects a lot of people – coach back there and my teammates – and it’s a conversation I need to have with a lot of people before I make that decision,” Dunlap said last Sunday night when asked what his future plans were.

Added Dunlap’s college coach, Alabama’s Jay Seawell: “The right decision is the decision that’s best for him.”

Now a pro, Dunlap is still in the Masters and the U.S. Open. He also has Tour status through the 2026 season and is qualified for The Players, PGA Championship and the rest of this year’s signature events.

“He’s here for a long time,” Seawell added. “People who love this game and want to watch it played the right way by a great young man, get used to it because that’s who he is.”

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