Nick Dunlap turns professional, four days after missing out on $1.5 million payday due to amateur status

CNNAmerica’s newest golf sensation Nick Dunlap announced he is turning professional Thursday, just four days after missing out on a $1.5 million payday due to his amateur status.

The University of Alabama sophomore announced his intention to accept PGA Tour membership at a press conference staged on campus, having become the first amateur to win on the tour in over three decades with triumph at The American Express on Sunday.

Victory in La Quinta, California, made the 20-year-old the youngest amateur to win a tour event since 1910 and granted him the chance to take automatic membership through the end of the 2026 season – an “unbelievable” opportunity the former US Amateur champion could not pass up.

“It was the easiest, hardest decision that I’ve ever had to make,” Dunlap said Thursday.

“I was very fortunate that everyone had the same opinion about it, and my teammates were awesome and very supportive. It goes back to the family that Alabama has; they were very supportive and wanted me to chase my dreams.”


Dunlap is set to make his professional debut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on February 1, having withdrawn from this week’s Farmers Insurance Open to return home following his remarkable victory.

Having teed off ranked 4,129th in the world and competing via a sponsor’s exemption from his US Amateur win last year, Dunlap shot 29-under par at the PGA West course to top a field featuring a host of big-name stars and seasoned pros. The win rocketed him 4,061 places to world No. 68 and secured him exemptions for the PGA Championship and The Masters.

Yet his shock victory secured him none of the $8.4 million prize purse due to his amateur status, with the $1.512 million winner’s cut instead going to South African runner-up Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who finished a stroke behind.

Asked whether the triumph would accelerate his journey to turning pro in the wake of the win, Dunlap told PGA Tour Radio that he was unsure and would “take a second to let what just happened sink in a little bit.”

Dunlap will now be guaranteed a spot in the PGA Tour season’s seven remaining Signature Events (formerly known as Designated Events), where small fields compete for increased prize purses and FedExCup points, as well as The Players Championship and the US Open.