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A 20-year-old amateur golfer just won a PGA Tour event. But he’s not allowed to collect the $1.5 million prize

Nick Dunlap, a 20-year-old sophomore who plays golf for the University of Alabama, won the American Express tournament Sunday at the PGA West golf course in La Quinta, California.

Dunlap’s score of 29-under par was one stroke better than South African professional Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who finished second.

But despite besting a host of pro-golfers, he won’t be able to take home the $1,512,000 prize due to his amateur status.

Instead, runner-up Bezuidenhout will receive the first-place prize. The three players who tied for third place will be paid as if they finished in a three-way tie for second place.

“I’ve learned so much today, and I’m so grateful to be here,” Dunlap said in an interview posted by the PGA Tour page on X, formerly Twitter. “To see some of the people rooting for me was really special.”

Dunlap is the first amateur to win a PGA Tour event since 1991, when a young Phil Mickelson won the Tucson Open. Dunlap is also the youngest amateur to win a tour event since 1910.

Nick Dunlap hits from the fairway on the eighth hole at the La Quinta Country Club course during the third round of The American Express golf tournament. - Ryan Sun/AP
Nick Dunlap hits from the fairway on the eighth hole at the La Quinta Country Club course during the third round of The American Express golf tournament. - Ryan Sun/AP

Dunlap’s big win is just the latest in a string of successes that indicate a bright future for the golfer from Huntsville, Alabama.

With his win in the US Amateur championship last year, Dunlap joined Tiger Woods as the only golfers to win both that prestigious tournament as well the US Junior Amateur championship, which Dunlap won in 2021.

The win also qualifies Dunlap to turn professional at any point and join the 2024 PGA Tour with automatic membership through the 2026 season, according to PGATour.com. If he retains his amateur status through the conclusion of the 2024 tour season, he has 30 days after the end of the 2024 season to declare himself a professional for the 2025 season or 30 days after the end of the 2025 season to declare himself a professional for the 2026 season.

In an interview with PGA Tour Radio after his win, Dunlap admitted that he was unsure what he would do next.

“I have to take a second to let what just happened sink in a little bit,” the student said. “That’s a decision that’s not just about me. It affects a lot of people, and obviously, I’m going to try to enjoy this.”

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