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August 17, 2023

Huntsville’s Dunlap edges Sargent in epic match at US Am

By Alabama Golf News Staff
Nick Dunlap advances at US Am

Marquee match had large gallery

In a match that could just as easily have been for the championship of the U.S .Amateur Championship, Huntsville’s Nick Dunlap took out Birmingham’s Gordon Sargent in the Round of 64 on Wednesday.

Dunlap advances

to Round of 16

UPDATE: Early Thursday afternoon Nick Dunlap defeated Connor Jones of Denver 4&2 to advance to the Round of 16. Dunlap started with four birdies to go 4-up after four holes. Jones whittled Dunlap’s lead to 1-up on No. 13 before Dunlap took command for good. Dunlap was set to tee off against Bowen Mauss of Draper, Utah at 3:10 p.m. CDT. Mauss advanced by defeated Auburn Tiger player Brendan Valdes 1-up.

Dunlap’s 2 & 1 win over Sargent was a marquee match featuring SEC foes and a pair of top-10 players in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

Oh, they’ll also be teammates in the upcoming Walker Cup matches.

It was Dunlap, ranked No. 9 and a rising sophomore at the University of Alabama, who took out Sargent, ranked No. 1 and a rising junior at Vanderbilt. The match lived up to expectations and was played in front of a large crowd of spectators. The venue matched the hype, too, as it was played at historic Cherry Hills Country Club near Denver.

“I think this was a match that a lot of people wanted to see,” Dunlap, who captured the Northeast Amateur and the North & South Amateur earlier this summer, told “Obviously he’s the No. 1 player in the world for a reason. Wasn’t expecting any gifts from him. Just kind of throwing punches all day long and see who could withstand them at the end.”

Dunlap, 19, lost the par-4 first hole to Sargent’s birdie. After the pair halved the next eight holes, Dunlap won Nos. 10 and 11 with birdies and added another birdie on the difficult 511-yard, par-4 14th to take control of the match over Sargent, 20, who was the low amateur in the U.S. Open in June at The Los Angeles Country Club.

Nick Dunlap: ‘This is why I practice’

“He put a lot of pressure on me on the front with some of his 390-yard drives, but I thought if I could get the tee and maybe start applying some pressure of my own that maybe I could flip the momentum in my favor,” said Dunlap, the No. 41 seed, who will take on local favorite Connor Jones, of Denver, in Thursday’s Round of 32. Jones, 22, a graduate student at Colorado State and the No. 9 seed, ousted Vicente Marzilio, of Argentina, 4 and 3.

“It’s everything that you would imagine,” Dunlap said. “A lot of people on the first tee, entire pond was surrounded on No. 17. This is why I practice is to go head-to-head with somebody like Gordon. It’s an honor, and it’s why I do what I do.”

Another player advancing with ties to Alabama was Brendan Valdes, who beat Josh Duangmanee 5 & 3. Valdes plays for Auburn University. Valdes is seeking to make it a clean sweep for Auburn players after Megan Schofill won the U.S. Women’s Am last week. Valdes plays Bowen Mauss in the Round of 32.

All three stroke-play co-medalists advanced to the Round of 32, including Blades Brown, 16, of Nashville, Tenn., a high school sophomore who turned heads on Tuesday with an 8-under 64 at stroke-play co-host Colorado Golf Club. Brown defeated Benton Weinberg, of Potomac, Maryland., 1 up, while co-medalists Sampson Zheng and Jackson Buchanan also earned victories in matches that went to the daunting 18th hole.

Zheng, 22, of the People’s Republic of China, a rising senior at the University of California who captured the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball title with college teammate Aaron Du in May, edged 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Preston Summerhays with a par to Summerhays’ bogey on No. 18. Buchanan, 21, of Dacula, Georgia., a rising junior at the University of Illinois, held off Karl Vilips, of Australia, 2 up.

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Featured image of Nick Dunlap and caddie courtesy of the USGA


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