Sophomore golfer Nick Dunlap wiped tears with his gray Alabama jacket and went to great lengths to thank family, coaches, teammates and trainers for teeing him up for the opportunity to turn pro starting immediately.

“At this time I do want to announce that I am turning professional. I am accepting PGA Tour membership and will debut at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am,” Dunlap said Thursday. “A week from today, the first round starts. I’m going to continue to live here, hang out with the guys and at least live out some of my college life the rest of this year.”

Dunlap, 20, wrestled with the decision after winning The American Express on Sunday to become the first amateur to win a tour event in more than 33 years. Because of his amateur status, he wasn’t eligible to claim the $1.5 million winner’s payout. But Dunlap said the hardest part of turning pro during golf season with the Crimson Tide was telling his teammates he wouldn’t be there for them.

An instant celebrity, Dunlap took calls from recently Alabama coach Nick Saban and Tide golfing alum Justin Thomas after the victory. He said he leaned heavily on his family and coach Jay Seawell for opinions and guidance. The consensus feedback: “Go chase your dream.”

“It was the easiest hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. It’s an incredible opportunity, a golden opportunity to do that with what the PGA Tour has provided. I’m very grateful for it,” Dunlap said. “There’s going to be a Script A (Alabama’s logo) on my bag forever.”

Dunlap said he’s looking forward to many challenges ahead and is still coming to terms with the path he’s starting down next week.

“I’m looking forward to Augusta. That will be pretty cool,” Dunlap said of the upcoming Masters Tournament.

He becomes the youngest PGA Tour member and is exempt through the 2026 season.

–Field Level Media REUTERS

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