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April 10, 2024

Nick Dunlap savoring first Masters appearance

By Gregg Dewalt, Alabama Golf News Editor
Nick Dunlap

Paired with Rahm and Fitzpatrick

Nick Dunlap arrived at the Augusta National Golf Club Monday morning around 10:30 a.m.

It’s not his first time on the property that is revered for hosting the annual Masters tournament. Just two months ago he played the course. It is, however, the first time he has been to the course as a competitor. And that, according to the 20-year-old from Huntsville, is a whole other vibe from his first visit.

He met with media members Tuesday and described the feeling ahead of playing in his first Masters.

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” he said. “You know, greatest place on earth, and honored to be here. You know, I got to come two months ago, but it’s different seeing all the patrons, and the golf course is starting to really shape up. It’s really, really cool.”

Dunlap said he spent the first hour and a half on property wandering around, soaking everything in.

“I just try to enjoy it, look around,” he said. “Walked around the pro shop like three times. Just try to take it in as best as I can.”

Dunlap even took a selfie on the bridge at the famed par-3 No. 12 at Amen Corner. He joked that he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to do that, but quipped that he wasn’t sure how many opportunities there would be in the future.

“Life is too short for special things like that,” he said. “May not get a chance to come back; maybe I’ll play 20 more times. I have no idea. It’s something that I’m sure it’ll be a moment that either of us [caddie Hunter Hamrick] don’t forget.”

Working on fixing the little mistakes

After playing Tuesday with world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, Nick Dunlap played a Wednesday with Ardmore’s Lee Hodges, who is making his first start in the Masters.

“We play a lot of golf back home, too, so it’ll be a comfortable and really cool for both of us to kind of play at home and then be able to play here,” Dunlap said of the round with Hodges. “I’m sure we’ll both share that for a long time.”

On Thursday, Dunlap gets down to business playing in a high-powered pairing with defending champion Jon Rahm and Matthew Fitzpatrick. They will tee off at 9:30 a.m. CDT.

Playing in the Masters completes a whirlwind few months for Dunlap, who while playing as an amateur won the American Express, turned professional and has since banked $318,965 while making 4-of-6 cuts.

He admits playing professionally has been an adjustment.

“I think I’m learning week to week what it’s like to try to compete out here and play my best,” he said. “I don’t necessarily think everybody says you don’t have to do anything different. I’m learning that the hard way in some of these events but also learning that 4-, 5-under is top 10 and even par is the cut, so it’s the small mistakes that I’m trying to clean up, and the things that [Alabama] Coach [Jay] Seawell tried to beat into our brains for a few years. That’s finally starting to click, what he was trying to teach us.”

Dunlap joked that the biggest lesson he has learned is that he has “got to pay everybody now.”

“Everybody was kind of helping me out before,” he said. “Nothing is really free anymore.”

On a serious note, he said the biggest task is trying to surround himself with a team he can trust to handle everything outside the ropes so he can focus on playing his best.

Dunlap’s game certainly seems to be trending upward. He’ll make his first appearance in the Masters Thursday morning coming off a tie for 11th place at the Texas Children’s Hospital Houston Open.

On Friday, Dunlap, Rahm and Fitzpatrick play at 12:36 p.m.

Gregg Dewalt is the editor of Alabama Golf News

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Featured image of Nick Dunlap: courtesy photo

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