Dunlap never trailed in his 4-and-3 victory over Neal Shipley, though it was tied after 18 holes in the morning of golf so exquisite they produced 11 birdies between them. It got a little sloppy at the end, but only after Dunlap seized control.
He was 4 up with four holes to play when Shipley failed to birdie the par-3 15th hole to extend the match.
Dunlap, a 19-year-old at Alabama, won the U.S. Junior at the Country Club of North Carolina two years ago. Woods famously won three straight U.S. Juniors followed by three straight U.S. Amateur titles.
“I think it’s only a third of what he’s done,” Dunlap said. “Just to be in the same conversation with Tiger is a dream come true and something I’ve worked for my whole life.”
Dunlap, No. 9 in the world amateur ranking, won back-to-back events this summer in the Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett and the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst, two of the more prestigious amateur events in America.
He already was selected for the Walker Cup team this year, which will be held at St. Andrews. And he improved his record in match play to 30-2 dating to 2021.
Shipley caught him at lunch, and the match remained square through 20 holes. Dunlap won the third hole of the afternoon session to go 1 up and never looked back. He won the next hole with a conceded birdie and took a 3-up lead through seven holes with a bogey by Shipley.
Dunlap made a 35-foot birdie putt at the turn to halve the hole and stay in command, and then he went 4 up with a 15-foot birdie putt that broke sharply on the 10th green.
Shipley took double bogey on the 14th hole after driving into a hazard and went 4 down, and the match ended on the next hole when Shipley failed to make birdie.
Both shot the equivalent of 66 in the morning. Dunlap made 11 birdies in 33 holes, either made or conceded.
The victory sends Dunlap to the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open next year. Shipley, 22, and a graduate student at Ohio State, gets into the Masters.
“Nick played phenomenal,” Shipley said. “He was going to be hard to beat today. I played great all week. There’s not much you can do when someone does that to you.”
Source : ESPN