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Novice Dunlap fires 60 (!) to steer Burns, JT at AmEx

LA QUINTA, Calif. — College of Alabama sophomore Nick Dunlap fired a 12-under 60 to take a three-shot lead over Sam Burns at The American Categorical on Saturday, matching the bottom spherical by an beginner in PGA Tour historical past and surging into place for the primary victory by a non-professional in 33 years.

Justin Thomas shot 61 and was 4 photographs again of the 20-year-old Dunlap, who tore up La Quinta Nation Membership and moved to 27-under 189 on the Coachella Valley event’s three beneficiant programs.

With 10 birdies and an eagle in his aggressive, correct spherical, Dunlap matched then-amateur Patrick Cantlay’s 60 on the 2011 Vacationers Championship. Dunlap’s rating to par was the very best ever by an beginner; Cantlay was 10 below at par-70 TPC River Highlands.

“The putter felt so good,” Dunlap stated. “The opening appeared like a funnel.”

Solely seven amateurs have received on the PGA Tour since 1945, and solely 4 since 1950. The final to do it was Phil Mickelson, who received the Tucson Open in 1991 as a 20-year-old Arizona State junior.

Burns led after two rounds, however Dunlap flew previous him whereas taking part in a few hours earlier. Burns shot a gradual 65 on the Stadium Course to remain in competition after taking the lead along with his career-low 61 on Friday.

The ultimate spherical shall be performed Sunday on the Stadium Course, the place Thomas tied the course document on Saturday.

“I believe it’s going to be laborious both means,” Dunlap stated. “ this place, like, it’s speculated to be simple, and guys are taking pictures low numbers, however you continue to should go do it. It’s nonetheless a golf course, and you continue to should hit good photographs. There’s out of bounds in all places. For (Sunday), there’s numerous water on the market. Simply hit one good shot at a time, and attempt to stack ’em and provides myself numerous beauty.”

Thomas, who received a nationwide title with the Crimson Tide in 2013, roared up the leaderboard with six straight birdies on his again 9 to match the longest birdie streak of his profession.

The 2-time main champion is winless since his second PGA Championship victory in Could 2022, however Thomas could have an opportunity to catch his fellow Alabama product.

“Didn’t suppose I used to be going to should cope with a freakin’ school child taking pictures 60 in the present day,” Thomas stated with a smile. “He’s a stud. He’s the true deal. I believe how properly he’s dealt with the massive moments, it says lots about someone. It looks as if the larger the stage, the higher he performs. I’ve by no means performed with him earlier than. I in all probability would have most well-liked our first time in a follow spherical.”

Dunlap joined Tiger Woods final 12 months as the one winners of each the U.S. Novice and the U.S. Junior Novice. He performed previously two U.S. Opens attributable to his beginner success, however The American Categorical is simply his fourth PGA Tour occasion.

Dunlap is the one beginner within the 156-player discipline, taking part in on a sponsor exemption. He’s the primary beginner ever to make the lower on the occasion lengthy often called the Bob Hope Desert Basic, however he received’t get the $1.5 first-place prize cash or 500 FedEx Cup factors if he wins. He would, nonetheless, safe a PGA Tour card and taking part in privileges for 2 years.

Dunlap would even be the second-youngest winner since 1931. Jordan Spieth was 19 when he received the John Deere Basic in 2013.

Dunlap started the spherical two photographs off Burns’ lead, however rapidly jumped in entrance with six birdies on his first eight holes. He picked up three extra birdies after the flip earlier than holing an extended putt for eagle and ending with one final birdie on the par-4 18th.



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