2024 American Express Leaderboard: Nick Dunlap makes history as first amateur to win on PGA Tour since 1991

Nobody said it would be easy. Nevertheless, amateur Nick Dunlap officially etched his name in the record books on Sunday night in La Quinta, California. Winning the 2024 American Express at 29 under – one stroke lower than Christiaan Bezuidenhout – Dunlap became the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson in 1991.

The third-ranked amateur in the world is only the third non-professional to win on the PGA Tour in the last six decades; He is only the eighth to do so and the youngest since 1910.

Dunlap’s 259 also represents a tournament record at the American Express, and it opens the door to countless possibilities for the 20-year-old golfer. Although their winnings do not come with a winner’s check, they do receive all the other perks, including a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour; invitations to the Masters (for which he was already qualified through his U.S. Amateur victory), the PGA Championship and the Players Championship; and invitations to exclusive PGA Tour events this season. If he wants, Dunlap can start his 2025 season at The Sentry in Hawaii.

“I felt like the script for today was already written,” Dunlap said after the win. “I was going to give it everything I had, and whether I went to shoot 75 or 65 or 70, I was just going to give it everything I had.”

After tying the PGA Tour amateur scoring record with his third-round 60, Dunlap entered the final round in Palm Springs with a three-stroke lead over Sam Burns. The final threesome exchanged four consecutive pars between them before reaching the par-5 5th. Forced to layup after an errant drive, Dunlap hit his third shot to within tap-in distance, and Burns responded with a birdie of his own.

First blood was drawn after two holes at the par-4 7th as Dunlap missed his tee shot straight into the water. After being forced to hit his third birdie from the forward tee, he made double bogey while Burns made his second birdie of the day. A three-shot swing was the result and a tie ballgame materialized with 11 holes to play.

Burns started on the inside and birdied Nos. 10 and 11 to take a one-shot lead. Dunlop did not panic and continued his work. He pulled one back with a zipping wedge shot on the par-4 14th and pulled away with a nifty up-end on the 16th.

With possession off the tee, Dunlop went first on the par-3 17th and put pressure on Burns to get close to the green fat. The US Ryder Cup member was unable to respond, sending his tee shot all but into the water, guaranteeing Dunlop the lead on the 72nd tee.

However, as the sophomore from Alabama stood on the tee box, Bezuidenhout decided not to go quietly into the night. The South African’s last birdie pulled him to within one and forced Dunlop to make par to secure his history. After his approach settled just short of the green, Dunlap remained calm under pressure and landed his chip to just under 6 feet. A similar transformation and a new chapter in the history books followed.

,[The emotions] β€œIt was like nothing I had ever felt,” Dunlap said. This is very good. I told Sam many times, it’s great to come here and experience it as an amateur. …If you had told me Wednesday night that I would have a chance to win this golf tournament, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Well, you believe it, Nick Dunlop. Grade: A+

Here are the other notable names on the 2024 American Express leaderboard.

T3. Justin Thomas (-27): The 30-year-old’s inclusion in the final group is Thomas’ first bid since the 2022 Canadian Open. While his putter cooled off relative to his third round, Thomas would look for two approach shots as his final destruction. From 200 yards out in the middle of the fairway on the par-5 5th and par-5 11th, Thomas found a watery grave both times and played two holes in 1 over. He looks very fast, but there is still some progress to be made with the long irons. In 2022, Thomas ranked 10th in passes over 200 yards and fell in the same category to 136th in 2023. grade A-

T6. Sam Burns (-25): For much of the back nine, it looked like Burns would add his sixth PGA Tour title to his last 66 starts. He maintained a one-stroke lead at the par-5 16th and split the fairway to set up a potential birdie chance. A huge right miss was the beginning of the end for the American as loose swings began to pile on top of each other. A par on the 16th was followed by a terrible tee shot on the 17th that fell flat and resulted in a double bogey. Still having a chance to win on the 18th tee, Burns ended any hopes by hitting a wicked double cross. It was an ugly ending, but it shouldn’t overshadow an otherwise fantastic week for the 27-year-old. grade A

T17. Scotty Scheffler (-21): The world No. 1 did not fare well as The Sentry’s troubles in the final two days were completely leaked in his American Express. Scheffler was considered an afterthought due to poor putting and a relative decline in the tournament from tee to green. After some visible improvement in his stroke at the Hero World Challenge, Scheffler is back on the green in his first two starts of 2024. He will try to reach the rugged greens of Pebble Beach in two weeks for the first signature event. Season. This result marks only Scheffler’s third finish outside the top 15 since November 2022. Grade: C

T39. Daniel Berger (-17): After just 18 months away from competitive golf, Berger remained strong as he returned from injury. Making the cut, the American was impressive and finished in the top 20 in both tee and stroke play in his two rounds at the Stadium Course. The problem for Berger is that he’s essentially starting from scratch. He hasn’t qualified for signature events or been in the field of major championships, so he has a long way to go to get back to the player he once was. Anyway, it was a great first step. Grade: A+

MC. Rickie Fowler (-2): Fowler beat only eight players this week and never looked comfortable around PGA West. While 2023 was defined by resurgence, Fowler’s 2024 will be defined by validation. Since winning at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last summer, the 35-year-old has suffered a string of poor games. He does not finish in the top-20 in full-field events and ranks outside the top 70 in total strokes gained, strokes gained off the tee, strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained putting. The iron game remains steady, but the rest of Fowler’s game needs to start improving if he is to have a respectable run in 2023. Grade: F

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