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January 19, 2024

Nick Dunlap surges into contention at American Express

By Gregg Dewalt, Alabama Golf News EDitor
Nick Dunlap and Hamrick

Crimson Tide golfer T3 after 36 holes

Nick Dunlap continues to prove there is no golf stage too big for the talented sophomore at the University of Alabama.

Dunlap, of Huntsville, who plays at Canebrake Golf Club, is the only amateur in the American Express PGA Tour event this week. After two rounds, Dunlap is 15-under-par 129 and just two shots off the pace being set by Sam Burns.

Burns shot 61 in Friday’s second round and was at 127 through 36 holes. The tournament is being played at the PGA West facility in California.

Michael Kim was in second place at 128, while Dunlap was tied with K.H. Lee at 15 under going into Saturday’s third round.

Making his fourth start in a PGA Tour event, Dunlap opened the tournament on Thursday with two birdies and an eagle to set the tone for his rise to the tournament leaderboard. He eventually signed for an 8-under 64.

Anybody thinking his first round was a fluke was sadly mistaken, as Dunlap shot 30 on his front nine Friday at the Stadium Course. Although he cooled off on the back nine, he tapped in a short birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 65 to pull to within two shots of Burns.

Nick Dunlap is making his 4th PGA Tour start

For all his success on the amateur and collegiate levels – he has victories in the prestigious U.S. Junior Amateur and last summer’s U.S. Amateur – Dunlap had a quick response when asked about his comfort level when taking his game to the PGA Tour level.

“Nervous,” he said. “Playing with Wilson (Furr, a former Crimson Tide golfer) helped me a lot. I have played a lot of golf with him in Birmingham, so it was a very comfortable pairing. Hunter (former Tide player/assistant coach) has walked a lot of golf with me as a past assistant, so I was pretty comfortable except for 16-17-18 where I was pretty nervous. But it felt good.”

Dunlap said his game has been solid through 36 holes.

“I thought I drove it a little crooked the first day and had some fortunate bounces,” Dunlap said. “I got some things squared away on the range after and drove it really well today. I made some putts. My caddie Hunter (Hamrick) kept me patient. I missed some putts midway through the round but I’m really happy with where I am at.”

Dunlap said the plan is to try embrace the position he is in heading to the weekend 36.

“I am fortunate enough to be in a cool spot,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t try to steer away from it; I try to embrace it.”

Gregg Dewalt is the editor of Alabama Golf News

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Featured image of Nick Dunlap and caddie Hunter Hamrick (left) courtesy of the PGA Tour

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