To say the past two weeks for Nick Dunlap have been a whirlwind would be an understatement.
First a trip from Alabama to La Quinta, California, where by week’s end he would make history, becoming the first amateur to win a PGA Tour event in 32 years. Then back to his home state and to the University of Alabama, where the 20-year-old was in the midst of his sophomore season. He had a big decision to make, whether to turn professional or remain an amateur and finish out the season.
“I would say I knew that I was probably going to turn pro just with the opportunity that had been presented, but also I wanted to go back and talk to my teammates and talk to my parents and my coach and get their opinion and their two cents worth before I did anything,” Dunlap said.
“I’ve dreamed about doing this my whole life and playing golf on the PGA Tour. To finally be here and to be able to do that as a 20-year-old is pretty cool.”
His first professional start will be Thursday when he tees it up alongside Xander Schauffele at the 2024 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the first full-field signature event of the PGA Tour’s season. Although Dunlap didn’t receive the first-place prize money or FedEx Cup points from his win at the American Express, he did receive fully exempt Tour status through 2026 and entry into the remaining signature events of 2024.
Guaranteed money, job security and more were too much to pass up for the reigning U.S. Amateur champion.
“Hectic, but also really cool,” Dunlap said of his past couple weeks. “To kind of — I’ve had numerous moments where you just kind of have to take it all in, it’s overwhelming.”
Instead of tracking due dates for homework and managing test schedules, Dunlap is tasked with developing a professional schedule on the whim, one that includes stops at the first three majors of the year.
During his pre-tournament press conference Wednesday, Dunlap said he hasn’t quite figured out his full schedule but is piecing it together.
Dunlap’s rise shouldn’t be a surprise. Last summer, he became the best amateur golfer in the world, capped with his U.S. Amateur victory at Cherry Hills Country Club outside of Denver. He became the second golfer ever to win a U.S. Junior and U.S. Amateur. The other? Some guy…