Nick Dunlap withdraws from Farmers to ponder future after California win
The 20-year-old beat Christiaan Bezuidenhout to become the first amateur to win a PGA Tour event since Phil Mickelson in 1991
Nick Dunlap has withdrawn from this week’s Farmers Insurance Open to return home and ponder his future. The announcement came less than 24 hours after the 20-year-old became the first amateur to win a PGA Tour event since Phil Mickelson in 1991.
Dunlap rose 4,061 spots to No 68 in the official world golf ranking, the biggest jump yet.
“After a life-changing last 24 hours, I’ve decided to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open,” Dunlap said in an announcement by the PGA Tour. “I plan to return home to Alabama to be with family, friends and teammates.
“Thank you to Farmers Insurance and American Express for giving me these opportunities.”
Dunlap beat SA’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout by a shot on Sunday to claim The American Express in La Quinta, California. He joined Mickelson (1991 Northern Telecom Open) and Scott Verplank (1985 Western Open) as only the third amateur to win on tour since 1957.
As an amateur, Dunlap was ineligible to claim the $1.512m (R28.8m) winner’s cheque. He is now eligible for PGA Tour membership and to enter all seven of the PGA Tour’s remaining signature events in 2024.
However, the Alabama sophomore would need to turn pro to claim prize money at those events.
The prospect of going from a sponsor invite at the Amex to professional golfer in a matter of weeks was not something Dunlap was willing to tackle immediately after Sunday’s round.
“If you would have said, ‘Hey, in five days you’re going to have a PGA Tour card or an opportunity [to be exempt] for two years,’ I would have looked at you sideways,” he said.
“It’s a conversation I need to have with a lot of people before I make that decision.”
Dunlap is returning home to Alabama to soak in his historic victory and have those conversations about his future. Could that include a huge offer from LIV Golf?
Jon Rahm, the 2023 winner of the Amex who signed with LIV in December, is still looking to fill out his new team. Another headline-stealing signing such as Dunlap would be the latest public relations coup by the Saudi-backed league.
“Such an impressive performance by Nick Dunlap. Congratulations on an incredible win. This is just the beginning,” Mickelson posted on X on Sunday.
Dunlap is the second-youngest PGA Tour winner in 90 years, behind Jordan Spieth’s win at the 2013 John Deere Classic as a 19-year-old. He was also the first amateur to win the US Junior and the US Amateur since Tiger Woods.
“I have had a little experience leading golf tournaments, but nothing to this extent,” Dunlap said after draining a six-foot putt to win on Sunday.
“The PGA Tour’s extremely different. So that whole process was different for me, and whether it had turned out the way I was looking or not, I was just going to try to learn from it.
“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, [or] the US Open.
“And to have that putt, I took a bit longer than I normally might, and just take in the moment and [take] nothing for granted. I may not ever have that chance again, and I just want to embrace it.”
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