LA QUINTA, Calif. — Nick Dunlap’s girlfriend flew cross-country Saturday to spend the weekend with him in Palm Springs, so the 2 faculty college students deliberate to get a steak dinner earlier than Dunlap wraps up his day with a little bit laundry and a few homework.
After which on Sunday, Dunlap will try to turn into the primary beginner to win on the PGA Tour in 33 years.
The College of Alabama sophomore fired a 12-under 60 to take a 3-shot lead over Sam Burns at The American Specific on Saturday, matching the bottom spherical by an beginner in PGA Tour historical past.
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 perfect ever by an beginner; Cantlay was 10 below at par-70 TPC River Highlands.
“The putter felt so good,” Dunlap mentioned. “The opening seemed like a funnel.”
Solely seven amateurs have gained on the PGA Tour since 1945, and solely 4 since 1950. The final to do it was Phil Mickelson, who gained the Tucson Open in 1991 as a 20-year-old Arizona State junior.
Dunlap is the primary beginner to carry a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour since Paul Dunne on the 2015 Open Championship. Dunne shared the lead with Jason Day and Louis Oosthuizen coming into the ultimate spherical however shot 78 on Sunday to complete tied for thirtieth.
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 rivalry after taking the lead together with his career-low 61 on Friday.
The ultimate spherical might be performed Sunday on the Stadium Course, the place Thomas tied the course file on Saturday. Dunlap shot a bogey-free 65 on the Stadium on Friday for the best rating of his three spectacular rounds.
“I believe it is going to be laborious both approach,” Dunlap mentioned. ” this place, like, it is speculated to be simple, and guys are capturing low numbers, however you continue to must go do it. It is nonetheless a golf course, and you continue to must hit good photographs. There’s out of bounds in every single place. For [Sunday], there’s plenty of water on the market. Simply hit one good shot at a time, and attempt to stack ’em and provides myself plenty of beauty.”
Thomas, who gained 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 can have an opportunity to catch his fellow Alabama product.
“Did not suppose I used to be going to must take care of a freakin’ faculty child capturing 60 at the moment,” Thomas mentioned with a smile. “He is a stud. He is the true deal. I believe how nicely he is dealt with the large moments, it says quite a bit about anyone. It looks like 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 apply spherical.”
The ultimate grouping Sunday might be an all-Alabama affair, in a approach: Burns is an LSU product and an avowed Crimson Tide foe, however he at present has “RTR” — the acronym for “Roll Tide Roll” — shaved into his head after dropping a soccer wager with Thomas.
“Nick is a superb participant, and I believe he is received a very good head on him, so I believe it is going to be a very powerful problem for us [Sunday],” Burns mentioned. “He is taking part in very well.”
Dunlap joined Tiger Woods final yr as the one winners of each the U.S. Beginner and the U.S. Junior Beginner. He performed up to now two U.S. Opens attributable to his beginner success, however The American Specific is simply his fourth PGA Tour occasion.
Dunlap is the one beginner within the 156-player area, taking part in on a sponsor exemption. He is the primary beginner ever to make the minimize on the occasion lengthy referred to as the Bob Hope Desert Basic, however he will not get the $1.5 million first-place prize cash or 500 FedEx Cup factors if he wins. He would, nevertheless, 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 gained the John Deere Basic in 2013.
Dunlap started the spherical 2 photographs off Burns’ lead, however shortly 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.
South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout was fourth at 21 below. Xander Schauffele shot 63 to affix a bunch of 5 gamers at 20 below.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler made the 54-hole minimize at 14 below after his third-round 69 on the Stadium Course.
Data from The Related Press was used on this report.