LA QUINTA, Calif. — From Arnold Palmer’s five tournament wins to David Duval’s iconic final-round 59 to come-from-behind and win the 1999 event, The American Express has seen history time and time again.
Now next to Palmer and Duval comes 20-year-old amateur Nick Dunlap.
Looking for most of the day like the magic that had vaulted him to a three-shot lead entering the final round had evaporated, the University of Alabama sophomore Dunlap grinded down the stretch for a one-shot victory.
Dunlap becomes the first amateur to win a PGA Tour event since Phil Mickelson in 1991. He set a tournament record by finishing 29-under par.
As Dunlap played his final nine holes in 2-under par, tour veteran Sam Burns faltered with tee shots into the water on the final two holes Sunday at the PGA West Stadium Course. Burns lost the lead with had consecutive double-bogeys and finished four shots back.
Dunlap’s par and Burns’ double bogey on the ring-rocked par-3 17th were enough to give Dunlap the lead after Burns had played steady, consistent golf throughout the day. But Dunlap still needed to scramble for a par on the final hole to stay one shot ahead of Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who played the final four holes in 3-under for a 65. That put Bezuidenhout at 28-under, one shot behind Dunlap, who managed an up and down on the 18th hole including a five-foot par putt.
20-year-old amateur Nick Dunlap is a PGA TOUR champion.
He’s the youngest amateur to win since 1910. pic.twitter.com/DKQmK0fuAe
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 22, 2024
Dunlap’s 29-under 259 total is the tournament record since the event switched to a 72-hole format in 2012.
Dunlap’s win will resonate at The American Express and across the PGA Tour. Dunlap matches Mickelson’s 1991 win in the Northern Telecom Open in Tucson, when Mickleson was 20. Dunlap, also 20 and the reigning U.S. Amateur champion just as Mickelson was 33 years ago, becomes the youngest winner on the PGA Tour since 19-year-old Jordan Spieth won the 2013 John Deere Classic.
While Dunlap walks away with no prize money, with Bezuidenhout taking home the $1,512,000 first-place check, it is Dunlap who creates history that won’t soon be forgotten in the desert or on the PGA Tour.
Dunlap is the first player to win as a sponsor’s exemption since Martin Laird at the 2021 Shriners Hospital event in Las Vegas. In only his fourth professional start, Dunlap made the cut for the first time. He remains only the second player…