Nick Dunlap didn’t need much time to make his decision after hoisting the trophy in Southern California earlier this month.
The 20-year-old sophomore from Alabama, who made history with his win at The American Express two weeks ago, officially turned pro. He will now make his professional debut this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which marks the second designated event on Tour so far this season.
“Hectic, but also really cool,” Dunlap said Wednesday of what the last few weeks have been like. “I've had numerous moments where you just kind of have to take it all in, it's overwhelming. But also I've dreamed about doing this my whole life and playing golf on the PGA Tour. To finally be here and to be able to do that as a 20-year-old is pretty cool.”
Dunlap won The American Express in La Quinta, California, two weeks ago after posting a 60 in the third round. That made him the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson in 1991, and the youngest amateur since 1910.
Dunlap, who won the U.S. Amateur, was already set to play in the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open this season. Now that he’s turned pro, he will have full Tour status and exemption through the 2026 season. His win jumped him up 4,061 spots to No. 68 in the Official World Golf Rankings, which was the highest one-week jump in the rankings’ history.
“I would say I knew that I was probably going to turn pro just with the opportunity that had been presented, but also I wanted to go back and talk to my teammates and talk to my parents and my coach and get their opinion and their two cents worth before I did anything,” Dunlap said.
Once he did that, Dunlap made the trip to the Monterey Peninsula for this week’s tournament. Just like that, he was right in the mix. Fellow Alabama star Justin Thomas actually caught up with Dunlap and others at dinner on Monday night.
“Nick was there and he looked tired. He was like, ‘Man, I’m so tired.’” Thomas said Tuesday. “I was like, ‘Dude, I don’t really care. You should be sleeping right now and getting ready to go to class tomorrow morning and I'm pretty sure all of your teammates would happily switch with you, so be careful who you say that to.’
“I was needling him, giving him a hard time … I just think it's important that whatever he's always done, to continue to do that because I think it's easy to get a little bit taken over by the opportunity.”
Dunlap will go off with Xander Schauffele on Thursday morning at Pebble Beach. He’ll then play at Spyglass Hill on Friday, where he’ll attempt to make a second straight cut before trying to compete into the weekend yet again. That’s no easy task, especially with the stronger field in play this week.
But regardless of how it goes, Dunlap knows how special it is to get to make his pro debut at Pebble Beach of all places.
“I remember playing this place on the PGA Tour PlayStation game, so to be out here and to see it for the first time is pretty cool,” he said.