BlogPrelude for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am

A Changing Week in Golf

The last couple of days have seen a lot of things coming to fruition, first with Nick Dunlap deciding to opt out of three years at Alabama to turn professional. On Sunday at the American Express, Dunlap went mano-a-mano, starring down the likes of Justin Thomas and Sam Burns to become the first amateur in 33 years to win on the PGA Tour. Many kids in college today can swing perfectly, hit laser target irons to greens, and putt but a Ben Crenshaw, Tiger Woods, or Phil Mickelson. But Dunlap had something else; despite only turning 20 last month, Dunlap showed a maturity well past his age. That was one of the significant characteristics that Tiger Woods showed when he turned professional in 1996 or, even Jordan Spieth when he turned pro in 2012. So when Dunlap won by a shot, it set in motion a series of decisions that the kid had to make. Along with the accolades and praise that Dunlap got, the victory earned him the Golden Ticket in Golf, a full ride on the PGA Tour for the next year, along with other offers like the one that some wrote about in which LIV Golf offered Dunlap $25 million to play for them. So, instead of playing this week in San Diego, Dunlap went home to Alabama to talk to his parents, girlfriend, coach, and fellow Alabama teammates to make the hardest life decision.

Dunlap announced on Thursday that he decided to turn pro and accept membership in the PGA Tour. So, just like that, Dunlap changed his life from attending and playing Golf at Alabama to chasing the cash in golf. In a press conference from Tuscaloosa, he told the world that he would start this new chapter in his life next week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am and then play at the Genesis Invitational. His life will completely change; he plans to use Alabama assistant coach Hunter Hamrick as his caddie; the partnership worked well in Palm Springs. That will be up in the air regarding where he might live, but he loves the prospect of choosing where he will play each week on the PGA Tour. So all of this brings up some big questions on whether he will become the next Tiger Woods or struggle with the pressures and rigors of playing golf for a living at such a young age. I feel that Dunlap will be exceptional; he will win more and win soon. Look for him to come out with all guns blazing. We will have a great indicator by the Masters on whether he was just a one-hit wonder or if he will be the real McCoy. I believe it will help people forget that Jon Rahm is now playing on LIV Golf.

Another youngster creates a lot of buzz.

Nick Dunlap wasn’t the only youngster to win this week; 19-year-old South African Aldrich Potgieter won the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic by two shots on Wednesday to become the youngest winner on the Korn Ferry Tour. Potgieter was 19 years, four months, and 11 days to claim the title over Jason Day, who held it with his win at the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic at the age of 19 years, seven months, and 26 days. Potgieter, who turned pro last summer, became the fourth golfer in his teens to win on the Korn Ferry Tour, joining Day, SungJae Im, and Akshay Bhatia.

Potgieter was born in Mossel Bay, South Africa. He started playing Golf at an early age, attending the Louis Oosthuizen Junior Golf Academy in South Africa. In 2020, he won the South Australian Junior Masters by nine shots. In 2021, he won the Western Australian Amateur and finished second in the Australian Boys’ Amateur. His most significant victory was winning the 2022 British Amateur, beating Sam Bairstow 3 & 2 in the finals at Royal Lytham & St Annes. He won at just 17, becoming the second youngest winner in that Championship, first played in 1885.
Potgieter played in all the significant amateur events, along with the British Open, Masters, and the U.S. Open. After finishing 64th at the U.S. Open in Los Angeles, he turned pro and earned Korn Ferry status for 2024 thanks to medaling at the second stage of Q-School. He missed the cut in his first Korn Ferry start a week and a half ago at the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic.
The victory won’t get him the same opportunities that Dunlap has gotten, but the win will allow him to pick his schedule more to his liking and get sponsor exemptions to PGA Tour events. The win just about guarantees that he will be able to move from the Korn Ferry Tour and get full membership to the PGA starting with the fall schedule in September.

Lots of movement for LIV Golf in the last week.

When Jon Rahm signed to play on LIV Golf last month, we knew they wanted to sign at least two more big-time professionals to start a 13th team to play with Jon Rahm. Many names have been tossed around, two of them being Tommy Fleetwood and Nicolai Hojgaard. Both turned them down, along with Tony Finau, who was very close to being lured over. Last week, we heard that LIV Golf wooed Tyrrell Hatton and Adrian Meronk. According to James Corrigan of the Telegraph, Polish player Meronk is a done deal, and Hatton is still considering the offer but has worried that he may not be able to play in the majors after this year. Now for gamblers last week betting on the Farmers Insurance Open, those that favored Meronk, who was in the field, were not happy that hours before his tee time for the first round, he withdrew, saying “he just woke up feeling ill.” This put many folks, including myself, at a loss because we had no time to change our bets. So with that, it was a strong indication that Meronk is a done deal, and we will see tonight when the field for the AT&T Pebble Beach comes out to see if Hatton is playing at Pebble or in Mayakoba. While all this was happening, rumors came out on Dunlap after he won the American Express and then by social media posts that Viktor Hovland had expressed his displeasure in how the PGA Tour was managing the team. But after a few days on these sites that can’t be trusted, we haven’t heard anything else, which indicates that Hovland won’t jump ship.

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