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Should amateur golfers collect the purse if they win? PGA Tour rookie Nick Dunlap’s answer might surprise you

PINEHURST, N.C. — At the end of the annual USGA press conference before the U.S. Open with CEO Mike Whan, president Fred Perpall and chief championships officer John Bodenhamer, a reporter asked whether amateurs should now be paid their share of any winnings at the organization’s events.

Noting the changes to college athletics like NIL (name, image, likeness), Whan said the USGA has tried to stay on the front edge of the debate, even though it’s one that seems to be constantly changing.

“We’ve tried to evolve NIL and amateur status, as the game has, we as the USGA kind of created an NIL and amateur status angle before the NCAA did, so golf was kind of ahead of that time,” Whan said in advance of this week’s tournament at Pinehurst No. 2. “I’m not sure. You may be right. We may be heading to that path sooner rather than later.”

Interestingly enough, the next group press conference scheduled for Wednesday was Nick Dunlap, the last amateur to win a PGA Tour event when he did so at the American Express in January.

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The 20-year-old Dunlap, then a sophomore at the University of Alabama, did not receive a dime after winning the title as amateur players are not allowed to collect any prize money, and there is no avenue for him to retroactively declare himself a pro to collect the $1,512,000 first-place check.

Certainly, Dunlap must be in favor of a system that would have allowed him to collect the massive payday, right?

His answer might surprise you.

2024 The American Express
2024 The American Express

Nick Dunlap reacts after winning the The American Express at Pete Dye Stadium Course on January 21, 2024 in La Quinta, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

“I honestly don’t think so,” Dunlap said on Wednesday. “I think there should be maybe some kind of end of the week to help out with some of the expenses maybe. Weeks like this are expensive, especially at Augusta.

“It does kind of suck that you can’t make any money, so you’re kind of out of whether it’s five, 10, 15, 20 grand, whatever it is. Some kind of help at the end of the week would be nice.”

Dunlap became the first amateur to win a PGA Tour event since Phil Mickelson in 1991 by winning at PGA West Stadium Course, setting a tournament record by finishing 29 under. But he said the undretsnaidng

“I think teeing it up with an ‘A’ next to your name, you know you’re not going to be paid, which is a little bit unfortunate,” Dunlap said. “I wish we could, now saying that after AmEx. Like I said, you know you can’t get paid. Like I said, end of the week would be nice to get something back.”

While Dunlap missed out on a big check in January, he’s done just fine for himself after turning pro soon after the victory. With his T-12 at the Memorial last weekend, Dunlap now has amassed over $1 million for the season. He also sits 93rd in FedEx Cup points, meaning he’s within striking distance for the PGA Tour ‘s playoffs later this year. The top 70 players will qualify for the FedEx St. Jude Championship. And he’s had success at Pinehurst before, winning the North and South Amateur on the famed course last July just before he captured the U.S. Amateur.

So even without the cushy check he could have collected in the Coachella Valley, life as Nick Dunlap is pretty good these days.

“It was really, really cool for me to see everything that I kind of worked for come true. Playing out on the PGA Tour, making that putt at AmEx, it’s kind of what I always dreamed of as a kid. Like every putt was to win something. For me to have that putt was really cool,” he said. “I always kind of thought coming out here that I would have to learn a lot. I thought that my good was good enough. But these guys are so good consistently week in and week out. I knew I needed to do a couple things to be able to maintain my game, compete week in and week out.

“I’m three, four months into it. Kind of starting to get a grasp on it.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek