Sam Bennett Stakes Claim For Low Amateur After Dream Masters Start

Golf Monthly's Mike Bailey follows US Amateur champion Sam Bennett's remarkable first round

Sam Bennett Masters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

To say the moment wasn't too big for amateur Sam Bennett is a huge understatement. Nobody in the field had a better start during the first round at The Masters on Thursday. And perhaps just as impressive is what he did after his incredible first two holes.

Bennett, who punched his ticket to Augusta by winning the 2022 U.S. Amateur, made the type of debut at Augusta that everyone dreams about. He birdied the first hole, then holed an incredible chip shot from just off the green of the par-5 2nd to land at three-under par after just two holes. 

He would go on to birdie the sixth to get to four-under, then made 12 pars in a row to shoot a 68, three shots out of the lead set by Viktor Hovland, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka at seven-under-par.

One of the players he's even with is Scottie Scheffler, whom he played with (along with Max Homa), as is tradition, matching the defending Masters champion (Scheffler) with the U.S. Amateur winner. 

Scheffler said he knew Bennett must have been nervous, but that he's a "tremendous player," so he wasn't exactly surprised at how well Bennett played on Thursday. "He obviously got off to a tremendous start," Scheffler said. "That was fun to watch... I'm really happy for him."

Bennett's mother Stacy Bennett, who along with his brother Marcus and a few friends was following her son, wasn't surprised either. "He carried himself well," she told Golf Monthly. "And he was in the zone. I'm really, really proud of him."

Bennett, a fifth year player and All-American at Texas A&M University, doesn't lack for confidence. But he admitted he was a bit fidgety before the round started. He said he was worried about how he would do on the first hole. 

Sam Bennett Masters

(Image credit: Getty Images)

But that concern would vanish after he hit his approach within 10 feet and converted the birdie putt. The eagle on 2 after he holed his hard-breaking chip shot was the icing on the cake. After two holes, he looked like he had been playing Augusta National for decades, not days. 

After that he was simply steady, relying heavily on his caddie, Brian Kortan, who was also his college golf coach at Texas A&M. 

"He was incredible," Bennett said of Kortan, who played professionally on various tours himself for about 15 years. 

"He helped me get around this place," said Bennett, who tried to of keep the ball below the holes most of the day. "I had a lot of stress-free pars."

Bennett, who is from Madisonville, Texas, about 100 miles north of Houston, wound up hitting 13 of 18 greens in regulation. He also found 13 of 14 fairways and had just 27 putts. 

An up-and-down on 12 was crucial to continuing his momentum, as was the come-backer he made for par on 18. "Making that four-footer is going to make dinner taste a lot better tonight," he said after his round. 

Sam Bennett Masters

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bennett also continues to be inspired by his late father, Mark, who succumbed to early-onset Alzheimers in 2021. On his arm he has a tattoo of his father's advice, "Don't wait to do something," applying that wisdom every chance he gets. 

And although Bennett didn't really want to rehash the story of what his father has meant to him and how tough it was to lose him, he said he felt his pop's presence Thursday. "I always feel like he's there with me," he said.

In case you were wondering, Bennett's 68 is not a record for an amateur. That belongs to Ken Venturi, who shot 66 in round one of the 1956 Masters. Venturi would finish second that year to champion Jack Burke Jr., and yes, that's the best finish ever for an amateur. 

Of course, even if he doesn't win, he has a pretty good leg up on low amateur, who along with the champion is honored in Butler Cabin each year at the conclusion of the tournament. The next closest amateur after Thursday was Australian Harrison Crowe (+3), who qualified by winning last year's Asia-Pacific Amateur.

Mike Bailey
Contributing writer

Mike has worked in the golf industry for nearly 30 years with full-time staff positions at publications and websites that include PGA Magazine, the Golfweek Group, and He is currently writing for several different sites and magazines and serves as a contributing equipment writer for Golf Monthly, focusing on irons, shoes and the occasional training aid or piece of technical equipment. 

Mike has experienced a number of highlights in his career, including covering several Ryder Cups, PGA Championships and the Masters, writing instruction pieces and documenting the best places for golf travel for more than a decade.

Mike carries a 7.6 handicap index and has two hole-in-ones, the most recent coming in February 2022. A resident of Texas for more than 40 years, Mike plays out of Memorial Park Golf Course (home of the Houston Open on the PGA Tour).