Dunlap relishing life as a freshly-minted PGA Tour pro

Mark McGowan
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Nick Dunlap (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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The last two weeks have undoubtedly passed in something of a blur for Nick Dunlap, who became the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson back in 1991, but after making the inevitable decision to turn pro, it’s down to business as he prepares for his professional debut in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am this week.

“Hectic,” was how he described the period between sinking the winning putt in the American Express Championship and arriving at the storied Monterey Peninsula links where he is understandably the focus of a lot of attention. “But also really cool. To kind of… 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.”

Despite the numerous benefits to striking while the iron was hot – entry into the PGA Tour ‘Signature Events’ and topline sponsorship and endorsement deals to name just a few – he still sought out some advice before signing on the dotted line.

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“I would say I knew that I was probably going to turn pro just with the opportunity that had been presented,” he said, “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.

“They were all supportive of whatever I thought I needed to do going forward, whether that be stay in college or chase this professional dream.”

With the proximity of the Pebble Beach ‘Signature Event’ to the American Express Championship, time was of the essence, so there are several decisions left to be made, one of which is whether he chooses to finish the year at school while competing professionally and he’s still open to advice on the topic, including from PGA Tour players Sam Burns and world number one Scottie Scheffler with whom he played a practice round on Tuesday.

“Scottie and Sam were awesome,” he said. “I’ve reached out to them on numerous occasions the last week just seeing what their advice is on certain things and their opinions on some of the things I’m doing moving forward.

“Trying to figure out what I’m going to do with school moving forward, whether that’s take a couple classes or drop for the semester. I’m still kind of working through that, but we’ll see.”

Expectations and hype are to be expected, but Pebble Beach, especially in the conditions that are forecast for the week, is a tough training ground, especially when the only experience you have of it is with a video game controller in your hands.

“It’s really pretty,” he said when asked his initial thoughts. “It’s not as pretty today as it was the last two days, but no, just yesterday it’s 65 degrees, the weather’s perfect, sun’s out and playing the last couple holes on Pebble, so it’s pretty special. 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.”

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