Amateur Dunlap Pars Last Hole to Win 59th Amex by 1 Shot over Bezuidenhout

Amateur Nick Dunlap played it like a pro.

The 20-year-old Dunlap sank a clutch six-foot putt for par on the last hole to claim a one-stroke victory over Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa in the 59th version of The American Express on the TPC Stadium Course at  PGA West in La Quinta, Calif.

Dunlap became the eighth amateur to win on the PGA Tour since 1945, with Phil Mickelson of San Diego being the last when he captured the 1991 Tucson Open when he was a 20-year-old junior at Arizona State. 

“This is nothing like I’ve ever felt,” said Dunlap, the reigning United States Amateur champion. “It was so cool to be out here and experience this as an amateur. Whether I had made that last putt or missed it, if you would have told me on Wednesday night I would have a putt to win this golf tournament, I wouldn’t have believed you.

“I hadn’t faced much adversity yet, and hitting my ball into the water on No. 7, it tested everything I had. I missed a couple of putts that I thought I was going to make. … It’s never going to go how you plan, and it didn’t. I’m just so happy to be standing here.

“I don’t ever want to forget today.”

Dunlap, a sophomore at Alabama from Huntsville, Ala., overcame that double-bogey 6 on the seventh hole by making four birdies in a 70 to record a winning score of 29-under-par 259 after shooting 60 in the third round.

Bezuidenhout, who has won 10 times as a pro but still is seeking his first PGA Tour victory, holed out from 138 yards for an eagle on the 15th hole, and after making the last of his five birdies with an 11-foot putt on the last hole in a 65, was preparing for a playoff that never happened.

“It’s amazing,” Bezuidenhout said of Dunlap’s achievement. “Actually, I heard his name last year when he won the U.S. Amateur. He’s obviously a hell of a player, and congrats to him. Hopefully he can be out on the PGA Tour soon, and we all can get to play with him.”

Fifth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State made five of his eight birdies on the back nine in a 65 and finished two strokes behind in a tie for third with Kevin Yu Taiwan, who birdied six of the first 10 holes in a 63, and two-time PGA champion Justin Thomas, who followed a 61 by making three late birdies in a 68.

Sam Burns was tied for the lead with Dunlap, but hit balls into the water on each of the last two holes to finish bogey-double bogey and wound up four behind in a tie for sixth with Michael Kim of San Diego and Cal, who birdied the last three holes for a 65, and Adam Hadwin of Canada, who birdied three straight holes through the turn in a 67.

Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler carded a bogey-free 65 to tie for 17th, while Eric Cole, the 2023 PGA Tour Rookie of the year tied for 21st followed a 71, 10-th ranked Cameron Young, the reigning United States Open champion, birdied the last hole for a 69 to tie for 39th, and sixth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA struggled to a 76 to tie for 52nd.   

 This tournament was best known as the Bob Hope Classic from 1965 until 2011.

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