RUMFORD, Rhode Island – The Northeast Amateur celebrated its 61st year of hosting the best amateurs in the world, featuring 72-hole stroke play competition on the famed Donald Ross-designed 6,732-yeard par 69 Wannamoisett Country Club. The list of prior winner’s is like a who’s who of golf legends that include Dustin Johnson, Ben Crenshaw, David Duval, Hal Sutton, Jay Sigel, Peter Uihlein, Notah Begay, Scott Hoch, John Cook, Allen Doyle and more.
This year’s invitation-only tournament featured 105 amateurs, most under 25, with Nicholas Dunlap (Northport, AL) firing rounds of 68-67-63-66=264, 12 under par total, to edge Caleb Surratt (Indian Trail, NC) who posted rounds of 65-66-64-71=266 total, 10-under par.
It was a truly memorable victory for Dunlap, and another wonderful chapter to add to the lore that is the Northeast Amateur.
Needing two putts for a win, Dunlap, who plays for Alabama, holed a 20-foot putt to win. Surratt finished runner-up with two-time defending champion Dylan Menante finishing T-9 at 2-under.
Dunlap qualified for the U.S. Open and played two rounds at Los Angeles Country Club after missing the cut one week before the tournament. Since the Northeast Amateur is always played the week after the U.S. Open, he thought it would be too far and a quick turnaround to fly cross country to Wannamoisett. Dunlap told a few of his friends he was planning on skipping the Northeast Amateur. Fortunately, his friends talked him into playing.
“It feels great,” he said. “I had a couple of guys convince me and I heard the golf course is really good. This tournament was unbelievable. I’m glad I went and played. It’s a marvelous place. I love northeast golf. You’ve got to be creative and it’s a special venue.”
While standing over the 20-foot putt, Dunlap was thinking only one thing: “Make it,” he said. “I didn’t think [Caleb Surratt] was going to miss [par putt]. I got a window and was able to capitalize on it.”
Surratt entered the final round as the 54-hole leader and still led by four strokes entering No. 14 on Sunday. He made a few mistakes and Dunlap took advantage en route to victory.
Surratt explained he started spraying his drives late in the round and couldn’t recover. He attempted to drive No. 14 but he sliced it over the cart path and into the fescue to the right of the green. The entire gallery searched for the ball but were unable to recover it. He took the penalty, dropped, and finished with a bogey, making it a two-stroke swing, allowing Dunlap the opportunity to bounce. He took complete advantage.
“It was a good week. I felt like I had a lot of control all week, but it doesn’t really matter if you don’t have control in the moment. My weaknesses were shown down the stretch and I’m going to get better from that and move on,” Surratt said. “He sure earned it with a birdie on 18. I gave it away in the middle. It felt like I started leaking oil and he started catching some momentum. Nick’s an amazing player who you can’t give shots to. He’s going to be very successful on the PGA Tour and he’s going to be around for a long time. I’m just going to try to stay in company with him.”
When Dunlap dropped his birdie putt for the win, his scream could be heard all around Rumford. He picked up his ball from the bottom of the cup, and fist-bumped his caddy, Liam Feeney. After receiving the Northeast Amateur Invitational trophy, Dunlap first thanked his parents who were not able to attend. It didn’t take him long to call them with the news of his win.
“There’s no way I would be standing here without their help and support,” he said.
It’s been an emotional few weeks for Dunlap. He played in the U.S. Open, won the Northeast Amateur and now he’s traveling to Pinehurst, N.C. to compete in the North & South Amateur.
“Hectic,” he said. “I’ve got one more week on the road, but that’s all summer and I enjoy it traveling, meeting new people, going to new places, new golf courses. I’m enjoying it. Wannamoisett is an unreal venue. It’s my first time playing here and it’ll always be special to me,” he said. “I look forward to coming back next year.”