Nick Dunlap is now a PGA Tour champion, but he didn't go home with the paycheck of one.
The University of Alabama sophomore beat out South African pro Christiaan Bezuidenhout by one stroke at the 72-hole American Express tournament Sunday, clinching the gold at 29 under par.
This made the 20-year-old the first amateur golfer to win a PGA Tour event in 33 years — and the youngest to do it since 1910 — yet it's the 29-year-old runner-up, Bezuidenhout, who took home the $1,512,000 prize.
That's because PGA rules bar amateur golfers from collecting any prize money, meaning the cash instead goes to the second-place professional. The three players who tied for third place will also receive payment as if they finished in a tie for second.
"It was so cool to be out here and experience this as an amateur," Dunlap said after the tournament. "Whether I had made that or missed that [last putt], if you would have told me Wednesday night I would have a putt to win this golf tournament, I wouldn't believe you."
The last amateur to take first was then-20-year-old Phil Mickelson at the 1991 Tucson Open. The professional has now won 45 PGA Tour events, including six major championships.
After the feat Sunday, Mickelson gave a shout out to Dunlap on X, saying, "This is just the beginning."
Such an impressive performance by Nick Dunlap. Congratulations on an incredible win. This is just the beginning 👍👍
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) January 22, 2024
And that's likely true, as the Alabama golfer has now started drawing comparisons to Tiger Woods. Woods and Dunlap are the only golfers to win both the U.S. Junior Amateur and the U.S. Amateur titles.
The new champion now has to decide what to do next, as his win spawns high interest from sponsors and a PGA tour card lasting through 2026 whenever he decides to go professional. He could also join the tour this year and play the rest of the season's full-field events, putting himself in the running for seven $20 million prizes.
But he's still weighing his options of finishing school or getting a head start on the sport path. He said Monday he had decided to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open, set to kick off Wednesday, so that he can head back to Alabama to be with family, friends and teammates.
Statement on behalf of Nick Dunlap pic.twitter.com/9VGwMbjWEi
— PGA TOUR Communications (@PGATOURComms) January 22, 2024
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