PGA Tour amateur Nick Dunlap crushing The American Express field amid near-historic round

Nick Dunlap recorded the lowest score of this young PGA Tour season on Saturday at The American Express.

And he is not even a professional.

The Alabama sophomore paraded around La Quinta Country Club, shooting a 12-under 60 with no bogies in the process.

“I made a lot of putts. The putter felt really good,” Dunlap said of his incredible round.

“I don’t think I missed anything that I should have made, per se. Drove it well. Hit the irons really well. I don’t have any negatives after that round. I did everything pretty well.”

Dunlap leads Sam Burns by three shots going into Sunday’s final round as he has a golden opportunity on his hands. Should Dunlap go on to win, he would become the first amateur to win a PGA Tour event in three decades.

Funny enough, Phil Mickelson was the last to do so in 1991, when he won the Northern Telecom Open in Tucson, Arizona. Mickelson was a 20-year-old sophomore at Arizona State at the time.

“I don’t know if I can put it into words,” Dunlap said when asked what it would mean to win this event.

Nick Dunlap, PGA Tour, The American Express

Nick Dunlap and his caddie Hunter Hamrick fist bump on the ninth green after Dunlap shot 60 during the third round of The 2024 American Express.
Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images

“I think it’s easy to go [out] there, but I think—I don’t know. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be something that I haven’t experienced yet, obviously, on the PGA Tour. We’ve got a good game plan for [The Stadium Course.] I [just need] to go out there and stay in the present, like [my caddy] says, and go from there.”

Dunlap has plenty of experience in big-time championships.

After all, he is the only player besides Tiger Woods to win both the U.S. Junior Amateur and the U.S. Amateur championships. Dunlap defeated Neal Shipley 4 & 3 at last year’s U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado.

“I’ve heard he’s an unbelievable player,” Justin Thomas, a fellow Alabama player, said of Dunlap.

“He rises to the occasion and to the moment, which is something I don’t think you can really teach to anybody. He’s played well in the biggest stages, which is very impressive. Yeah, [Sunday will be] a great day for Alabama golf; I know Coach [Jay] Seawell is going to be tuned in very closely to the TV.”

Dunlap began his round on the 10th hole at La Quinta Country Club with a par and then rattled off four straight birdies.

He was off and running from there.

After draining six birdies on the back nine, Dunlap made the turn after shooting a 6-under 30. He would replicate that score on the front side, which included a gorgeous eagle at the par-5 6th.

Indeed, his putter was on fire, as Dunlap needed to hit just 25 putts on Saturday—an extremely impressive mark for any player, let alone an amateur on the biggest of stages.

“The stage is obviously different, but at the end of the day, it is still golf,” Dunlap reasoned.

“There’s a tee box, a flag, and a hole at the end of the hole. You try your best to get it in, in the least amount of shots possible. That’s kind of all I got. Just try to give myself as many good looks at birdie as I can.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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