U.S. Walker Cup team watch: North and South win makes Nick Dunlap a lock
It took an extra day, but Nick Dunlap is not only the 123rd champion of the North and South Amateur, but the Alabama sophomore is also likely headed to St. Andrews later this summer.
Dunlap trailed Stanford senior Karl Vilips, 2 down through 10 holes, when the pair returned to Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday morning after heavy rains suspended the championship match on Saturday afternoon. Dunlap then won the par-4 12th hole with birdie, chipped in for bogey to halve the par-4 13th, won Nos. 15 and 17 around a huge par save from 12 feet at No. 16, and calmly tied the par-4 finishing hole to secure a huge 1-up victory.
The win, which puts Dunlap alongside past champions such as Jack Nicklaus, Francis Ouimet and Davis Love III, was Dunlap’s second straight Elite Amateur Series title of the summer as he also captured the Northeast Amateur last month. The back-to-back triumphs also likely secured Dunlap a spot on the 10-man U.S. Walker Cup team that will compete at St. Andrews’ Old Course in Scotland this September.
Dunlap’s path to the title at Pinehurst included wins over Ben Warian, Jack Lundin and Gustav Frimodt. He also scored a huge quarterfinal win over North Carolina junior David Ford, who was named to Team USA last month along with Vanderbilt junior Gordon Sargent and Stanford senior Michael Thorbjornsen.
Four more Elite Amateur Series events remain, including the Trans-Miss Amateur, which is next up and begins July 11 in Dallas.
Here is an update on where the U.S. Walker Cup team race potentially stands:
Tickets already punched
Gordon Sargent (WAGR: 1)
Michael Thorbjornsen (2)
David Ford (4)
Nick Dunlap (15): On fire this summer, winning twice in Elite Amateur Series and qualifying for the U.S. Open. He’s now a lock.
Caleb Surratt (6): Runner-up to Dunlap at Northeast Amateur after top-15 showing at Sunnehanna Amateur.
Ben James (7): Phil Mickelson Award winner placed sixth at the NCAA Championship, though he’s not had a great summer yet, tying for 52nd at Sunnehanna and missing the Travelers cut.
Dylan Menante (8): His T-9 at Northeast was his sixth straight top-12 finish in amateur and college events.
Stewart Hagestad (14): Three-time Walker Cupper has no real competition for mid-am spot, and he has a made cut at U.S. Open and quarterfinals appearance in the U.S. Amateur under his belt from last summer.
Luke Clanton (11): Fast approaching top 10 in world following top-4 finishes at Sunnehanna and Northeast and qualifying for match play at Pinehurst.
Austin Greaser (5): Aiming at a U.S. Amateur return from hand surgery.
Knocking on door
Jackson Van Paris (52): Gave his competition a sizable head start as a bench player for Vanderbilt down the stretch, but no one not named Nick Dunlap has played better his summer – win at Sunnehanna, T-7 at Northeast, North and South medalist before reaching semifinals.
Maxwell Ford (44): Clipped by eventual runner-up Karl Vilips in first round after solo fifth in stroke play at Pinehurst. Also top 12 at Northeast and Sunnehanna, and second at Dogwood.
Maxwell Moldovan (16): His missed cut at North and South kills some momentum, but only slightly as USGA will weigh his made cut at U.S. Open heavily.
Michael Brennan (9): Different player since turn of calendar year with five top-5s for Wake Forest and a U.S. Open start o his credit.
Preston Summerhays (17): Five top-5s this spring for Arizona State and another U.S. Open qualifier.
Still in mix
Cole Sherwood (10)
William Moll (25)
Canon Claycomb (32)
Nick Gabrelcik (12)