LA QUINTA, Calif. — In the 65-year history of the American Express tournament, desert golf fans have never seen anything like what amateur golfer Nick Dunlap is doing.
Dunlap, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Alabama and the current U.S. Amateur champion, is poised to make PGA Tour history Sunday, playing himself into the lead of the American Express with 18 holes to play. Not only has no amateur every threatened to win the desert’s PGA Tour event, no amateur has won on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson’s victory at the Tucson Open in 1991.
Starting the day tied for third and two shots behind leader Sam Burns, Dunlap fired a 12-under 60 at La Quinta Country Club to reach 27-under. That put Dunlap four shots ahead of Justin Thomas after 54 holes. It also puts Dunlap just one shot from the tournament’s overall scoring record of 28 under since the event switched to a 72-hole format in 2012.
So amazing was Dunlap’s round, starting his day on the 10th hole at La Quinta, that when he birdied the par-5 fifth hole and eagled the par-5 sixth hole, he was 11 under for the day with three holes to play and within reach of a fabled score of 59.
Pars on the seventh and eighth holes ended that possibility, but he birdied the par-4 ninth to reach the 60, now the lowest score of the tournament this week. The tournament course record at La Quinta is a 59, shot by Adam Hadwin in the second round of the 2017 American Express.
Dunlap’s round was stellar but not the only low score on the day. Thomas, who played his college golf at Alabama, shot 61 on the Stadium Course at PGA West to reach 23-under. The 61 matches the course record set by Patrick Cantlay in 2021.
This is a developing story.