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Golf News Today

Nick Dunlap, a University of Alabama sophomore, won The American Express tour Sunday but won't be able to collect any prize money because of his amateur status. 

A 20-year-old amateur golfer became a PGA Tour champion Sunday.

Nick Dunlap, a University of Alabama sophomore, won The American Express tour, beating out Christiaan Bezuidenhout by one stroke and finishing the 72-hole tournament at 29-under-par 259.

But the champion won’t be able to collect any prize money despite becoming the first amateur to win a PGA Tour event since Phil Mickelson at the 1991 Northern Telecom Open, per the rules of amateur status.

The $1,512,000 prize will be given to Bezuidenhout, the only runner-up in the tour, as if Dunlap had not been in the field, a spokesperson for PGA Tour confirmed to NBC News.

A tearful Dunlap was seen hugging his family and friends following his historic win.

"I went over a scenario for today probably a million times and it's never going to go how you planned, and it didn't," Dunlap said. "I'm so happy to be standing here."

Comparisons have been drawn between the 20-year-old champion and Tiger Woods.

Dunlap is the second golfer in history to win both the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Amateur titles after Woods. He's also the first reigning U.S. Amateur champ to win on the PGA Tour since Woods in 1996.

At 20 years and 29 days, Dunlap is now the youngest amateur to win on the PGA Tour since Chick Evans at the 1910 Western Open.

"It is so cool to be out here and experience this as an amateur," Dunlap said following his win.

"If you would have told me that, you know, come Wednesday night I'd have the putts to win this golf tournament, I wouldn't believe you," he said.

[nbcnews.com]

Golf News Today

HONOLULU — Grayson Murray stuffed a wedge to 3 feet for birdie on the 18th hole for a 3-under 67 to join a three-way playoff and then won the Sony Open with a 40-foot birdie putt to set himself up for a potentially lucrative year.

Murray felt like a renewed person even before starting the season in Hawaii. He says he has been sober for eight months and was in a better frame of mine.

But the win — his first in more than six years — came at an ideal time.

The victory not only gets him in the Masters for the first time, Murray now has a spot in the $20 million signature events the rest of the season.

As big as the win was for Murray, it was a tough loss for Byeong Hun An and Keegan Bradley.

An was short of the par-5 18th green in the playoff in thick rough and pitched on to 4 feet, giving him the best chance at winning. But after Murray made his 40-footer, and Bradley missed his 18-foot birdie putt, An missed the short putt.

An had birdied the 18th in regulation for a 64.

Bradley broke out of a five-way tie with a 20-foot birdie putt on 15th hole. But he had pars the rest of the way for a 67, missing the fairway on the 18th in regulation and hitting a sand wedge some 20 feet short of the pin that took away a good birdie chance.

In the playoff, he was in the best position off the tee. His 5-wood sailed into the hospitality area left of the green, and his pitch came up well short.

Murray ran into trouble with PGA Tour discipline three years ago in Honolulu. He later took to social media to criticize the Tour for not helping him with his drinking. There also was a social media spat with Kevin Na when Murray poked fun at Na’s pace of play.

He was angry and his career was going nowhere since winning an opposite-field event at the Barbasol Championship in 2017.

But he’s in a better place now. Murray attributed so much of his calm to becoming a Christian, being engaged and dedicating himself last year to the Korn Ferry Tour with hopes of getting back to the big leagues.

“It’s not easy, you know?” he said. “I wanted to give up a lot of times — give up on myself, give up on the game of golf, give up on life at times. When you get tired of fighting, let someone fight for you.”

They finished at 17-under 263. Murray earned just under $1.5 million. There are seven signature events left this season, and Murray has a spot in all of them.

“I knew today was not going to change my life,” he said. “But it did change my career.”

Carl Yuan and Russell Henley each closed with a 63 and had their chances.

Henley was at 17 under until he pulled his tee shot left on the 16th, made a strong recovery but ultimately missed a 4-foot par putt. On the closing par 5, his drive went into such a deep lie in the rough he had no chance to get near the green and missed a 10-foot birdie chance.

Yuan made his mistake on the par-3 17th, missing the green left and missing a 4-foot par putt to fall out of the lead. And he appeared to get a break on the 18th when his second shot sailed into the hospitality area. The ball was never found, but rules officials talking to a few spectators decided it was somewhere in the hospitality area. He was given free relief and escaped with par.

But it didn’t help them. An hit the best approach of the day on the 18th to just inside 15 feet, and two-putt birdie made him the first to reach 17 under. Murray followed with a wedge to 3 feet for birdie, and Bradley missed his potential winner from just inside 25 feet.

J.T. Poston finished alone in sixth with the round of the week. He closed with a 61 and was among seven players who had a share of the lead at one point.

There was a five-way tie for the lead when the final group was on the 14th hole.

[NBCSPORTS.COM]

Golf News Today

Harris English, after Saturday’s low round at the Sentry, was asked about a little bit of everything. Sixty-fours that shoot you up the leaderboard can sometimes lead to that. 

Amongst the back-and-forth, reporters wondered:

Did it help that English started on the back nine on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, where scoring is often lower? Sort of, he said. His putter won the day, though.  

What was the difference in that putter? Harris said he was simply marrying his speeds and his lines better. During the first two rounds, they were off. (Golf, right?)

What did he do after the RSM Classic, the last PGA Tour tournament? He played in an event, the Grant Thornton Invitational, the PGA Tour-LPGA tournament. He duck-hunted in Missouri. He practiced. 

What was he working on? Same stuff, he said. It’s monotonous, he admitted. But the repetition gets him to be repetitive come game time. 

Would it help him during the final round that he won the 2021 Sentry? No doubt.

Did he want to add anything else? 

“It’s playing how it should out there,” he said. “It’s windy, it’s tricky, got some good pins, it’s a lot of fun. I know everybody’s having a lot of fun this week and it’s probably the best shape I’ve ever seen it.”

“And you’re getting money at the end of the week.”

“Yeah, and we’re getting a lot of money. Pretty good place to start out for the year.”

Which is a nice segue to this:

Here is a complete list of the 2024 Sentry payouts for all 59 players. The total purse is $20 million.

How much every player made at the 2024 Sentry...

[Source: Golf.com]

Golf News Today

Jason Day has a new apparel sponsorship and has left Nike, moving the needle even further on rumors that the Checkmark is potentially on its way out of the golf business.

Day, who has worn Nike since 2016 and joined the company after leaving Adidas, has signed with Malbon Golf, a premium lifestyle brand that offers some of the cleanest and most modern styles in the game.

Day and Malbon made it official with a promotional spot that was released last weekend. He is just the latest golfer to surge rumors that Nike is on its way out of golf.

As Tiger Woods cryptically answered questions regarding his future with Nike during the PNC Championship in December, there are plenty of indications that the company could be sunsetting its golf division. Although Nike has been one of the biggest brands in golf since signing Woods in 1996, a number of smaller companies have burst onto the scene and have landed major partnerships with the world’s best players.

Greyson landed Justin Thomas a few years back after he parted ways with Ralph Lauren, which was the start of smaller brands landing huge names. Travis Mathew has some major names wearing its products, including Jon Rahm, who recently left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf.

As Nike and Adidas both decided to end the production of golf equipment eight years ago, nobody could have guessed that they would be potentially on their way out of the massive golf market, especially considering the sport has done nothing but grow since the 2020 pandemic. An influx of smaller brands that offer fresh, hip, and modern styles has overtaken the market, and individualism has perhaps overtaken the focus on affordability.

These smaller brands have seen major increases in profitability and revenue thanks to the growth of golf over the past four years, and now we are beginning to see these brands get huge names to sign with them.

As golf’s landscape continues to change, it will be interesting to see where the biggest names land moving forward, especially Woods, who has been the main driver of Nike’s status in golf.

[golfcity.com]

Golf News Today

When the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund announced a framework agreement to merge their commercial operations, Tour commissioner Jay Monahan appeared the future leader and golf and LIV Golf’s Greg Norman a casualty of the deal.

Monahan lauded the “historic day,” and was hailed as the man who would oversee both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, which is bankrolled by the PIF. And it was reported he even had the power to make LIV Golf go away.

As for Norman, LIV’s CEO and commissioner, we were told during a Senate subcommittee hearing one month after the announcement the Palm Beach Gardens resident is “out of a job” if a deal is reached.

Seven months later, Monahan’s star has crashed and burned and Norman, well, he’s as defiant and confident as ever.

Whether or not the sides reach a deal by Sunday’s deadline — Tiger Woods believes it’s possible — the biggest surprise in 2024 could be Monahan, a man who not long ago was a rising star in his field, cleaning out his desk in Ponte Vedra Beach and Norman surviving the chaos.

A scenario that suddenly is a real possibility.

While some PGA Tour members are calling for new leadership, Norman expressed his confidence that he and LIV are here for the long run during a meeting with select members of the media at Doral two months ago.

Norman was asked what he thought when he heard the PGA Tour’s chief operating officer, Ron Price, declare Norman would be squeezed out.

“I knew it wasn’t true,” he said. “There’s so much white noise floating around out there that I actually paid zero attention to. … I was never in any fear of anybody saying anything or any animus against me or anything like that.”

And Norman insists LIV Golf would continue as a “standalone entity” even if a deal is reached with the PGA Tour.

Meanwhile, Jupiter’s Xander Schauffele has been one of the most outspoken about Monahan’s future, telling Today’s Golfer he “wouldn’t mind” seeing new leadership.

“I would be lying if I said that I have a whole lot of trust after what happened,” Schauffele said. “That’s definitely the consensus that I get when I talk to a lot of guys. It’s a bit contradictory when they call it ‘our Tour’ and things can happen without us even knowing.

“It’s hard. I’m sure there are reasons for what happened, but at the same time, it puts us in a really hard spot to trust the leadership that did some stuff in the dark and is supposed to have our best interests at heart. I am a bit in the dark still. I hate to sit here and hope for the best.”

Monahan’s mistake was holding about two months of negotiations with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, who heads the PIF, in secrecy. This angered the players and led to Woods being added to the Player Advisory Board to give the players a stronger voice.

Hearing the outrage, Monahan later regretted not looping in the players.

But Monahan clearly has lost the trust of the players, and watching Jon Rahm, who voiced his mistrust in Monahan at the U.S. Open, join LIV in November continued Monahan’s downward spiral.

“Management has not done a good job,” Viktor Hovland said in a recent podcast. “You see what happens behind closed doors, how management actually makes decisions that are not in the players’ best interest but best for themselves and what they think is best.”

As much as Monahan dismissed LIV Golf publicly — he once said LIV was an “irrational threat” — the league that has poached stars like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau and now Rahm — from the PGA Tour, also has gotten its attention.

The Tour’s infusion of money into prize purses and the Player Impact Program, and begging sponsors to increase financial commitments is a direct result of LIV’s threat.

LIV gained leverage in these negotiations after signing Rahm and the PGA Tour knows it cannot compete with the PIF’s war chest of more than $700 billion.

That puts Norman in a position of strength. And Monahan desperately trying to hold on.

[source: Golfweek.usatoday.com]

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