2024 American Express Leaderboard, Scores: Amateur Nick Dunlop leads after Round 3, aims for historic win

No amateur has won on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson in 1991. That could all change on Sunday as reigning U.S. Amateur champion Nick Dunlop shot a third-round 60 to take a three-stroke lead over Sam Burns at 27 under. 2024 American Express Final Round. To not only break a 33-year streak but also become the youngest amateur to win on the PGA Tour, the 20-year-old Dunlap has shown wisdom beyond his years during three days in Palm Springs, California.

“It was a blast,” Dunlap said. “Honestly, like my caddie, Hunter, said it a million times today, there’s no time like the present. I think it’s easy – the putter felt great. Everything – the hole looked like a funnel. You Got a par-5 next hole, I’m going to do this and this. He did a really good job of keeping me organized and keeping me where I was. Ultimately, I just kept putting shots together and had a pretty good round. Ended up with.”

Trailing 36-hole leader Burns by two leads heading into the weekend, Dunlap went to work Saturday at the gateable La Quinta Country Club. Four birdies in his first five holes moved Dunlap ahead of Burns and Michael Kim on the leaderboard and gave the Alabama sophomore sole possession of the lead. He never looked back from there as three additional birdies around the turn set the stage for an electric back nine (front nine at La Quinta CC) as the birdies kept flying, before an eagle caught them on the par-5 6th Landed. Up to 11 under on the round.

The idea of ​​a sub-60 innings became real, but two innings quickly quashed the idea of ​​any additional history. Instead, Dunlop made just one more birdie on his final hole to sign for 12-under 60 – the lowest round by an amateur since Patrick Cantlay accomplished that in the second round of the 2011 Travelers Championship.

Dunlap won’t be the only Alabama-bound player featured on Sunday’s final tee time as he forms a comfortable threesome featuring Justin Thomas. The 15-time PGA Tour winner hopes to get back to his winning ways by taking part in the parade of men 10 years his junior.

After enduring the worst statistical season of his career in 2023, the 30-year-old is still looking like his usual self. Like Dunlop, Thomas threatened a record, but a par on the par-4 18th meant he also tied Cantlay for the scoring record at the Stadium Course with his 11-under 61. He will start the final round at 23 under and has a legitimate chance to claim his 16th PGA Tour title and first since the 2022 PGA Championship.

Leader

1. Nick Dunlop (-27): Dunlap’s performance through 54 holes is historic, but those who really know probably aren’t too surprised. The 20-year-old has accomplished almost everything in the amateur ranks, including winning both the US Junior and the US Amateur – a feat only accomplished by Tiger Woods. In addition to his success at USGA Championships, Dunlap has starred on U.S. Walker Cup and World Amateur teams and won big-time amateur events such as the North & South and Northeast Amateurs. Sunday will be a completely different monster, but given his penchant for the big stage, Dunlap should be well equipped.

“It definitely feels different,” Dunlap said. “The stage is obviously different, but at the end of the day it’s still golf. There’s a tee box, a flag and a hole at the end of the course. You try your best to get in it in the least amount of shots possible. That’s all I got. Try to get as good a look at Birdie as you can.”

other contenders

2. Sam Burns (-24)
3. Justin Thomas (-23)
4. Christiaan Bezuidenhout (-21)
T5. Xander Schauffele, Adam Hadwin, Si Woo Kim, JT Poston, Eric Cole (-20)

It’s an important part of golf for Thomas as he entered the American Express ranked 28th in the world. The top 30 players in the Official World Golf Ranking at the end of next week’s Farmers Insurance will qualify for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Thomas is on track to solidify his spot at next week’s First Signature Event. Iron play declined strongly in 2023, but a resurgent fall that included three top-five finishes seems to have carried over into the new year.

Playing the Stadium Course on Saturday, Thomas finished first in strokes gained tee to green, first in strokes gained approach and third in strokes gained putting. Unless he expects Dunlap to return to the field, Thomas will need a similar performance tomorrow to win and ensure his spot in the field for not only Pebble Beach but all signature events in 2024.

“It feels great. I’m playing well, playing, I’m feeling good, feeling confident, at that point it’s just about coming out and playing,” Thomas said. “Obviously, not playing in tournaments for a while, you never know how it’s going to be, but I felt comfortable starting out at La Quinta and making some birdies. But, yeah, everything feels good. I Just have to go out tomorrow and make a lot of birdies and take advantage, and hopefully get into striking distance on the back nine.”

2024 American Express updated odds and picks

  • Nick Dunlop: 5/4
  • Sam Burns: 23/10
  • Justin Thomas: 18/5

Leadership is big, but it is not formidable. Those in the chasing pack will need some help from Dunlop, but if Childs signs for a score around 68 it leaves the door open for an outsider. If a score of around 32 under proves to be the winning score then Thomas should try his third round to advance to the final round of the decider. He is hitting the ball beautifully, rotating the ball with confidence and is performing very well at the moment.

Rick Gehman and Greg DuCharme recap Round 3 from American Express. Follow and listen to First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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