The American Express champion Nick Dunlap has a big decision to make – to turn pro or not to turn pro.
The first amateur to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson in 1991 is exempt on the PGA Tour through the 2026 season, so technically there’s no rush. But if he turns pro, he’s also exempt into the remaining seven signature events this season, several of which are limited field, no-cut events with purses of at least $20 million. It’s a no-brainer for the Alabama sophomore, right?
But when asked during his winner’s press conference if he would be accepting PGA Tour membership, Dunlap hesitated and the more he spoke about it the more conflicted he seemed.
“I have no idea,” he said. “I really don’t.”
Dunlap’s life has changed no matter what he decides and he’s gained admission to a new world.
“Starting the week, if you would have said, hey, in five days you’re going to have a PGA Tour card or an opportunity for two years, I would have looked at you sideways,” Dunlap said.
I don’t think he was being modest. And his next statement was telling. He noted that his decision has huge ramifications not just for him.
“It affects a lot of people, (Alabama) coach (Jay Seawell) back there and my teammates, and it’s a conversation I need to have with a lot of people before I make that decision,” he said.
Congrats on the unbelievable victory today! @NickDunlap62 It’s pretty hard for me not to watch the NFL playoffs today, but I was glued to watching the American Express Championship today. One of three in the last 65 years! Love it!!
— Scott Verplank (@scottverplank) January 22, 2024
Later, he would express a desire to be ranked No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and to win a ring with his Alabama teammates. Having already won the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Amateur in 2023, he’s in Rose Zhang territory where there’s really nothing more for him to achieve in the amateur game. Plus, Dunlap also has dreamed of winning on the Tour for most of his life.
“As a kid, you kind of whack it around all over the putting green and every putt’s for a chance to win, whether that’s a PGA Tour event, the Masters, the U.S. Open. And to have that putt, I took a little bit longer than I normally might, and just take in the moment and nothing’s for granted. I may not ever have that chance again, and I just want to embrace it,” he said. “You know, like I said, it may not ever happen again.”
There is, of course, a wild…