Sam Bennett Targeting The Green Jacket After Securing Low Amateur Honors

Amateur Sam Bennett's incredible run continues as he sets his sights higher on the weekend at Augusta National

Sam Bennett salutes crowds at The Masters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Forget winning low amateur at the Masters. Sam Bennett has sewed that up. He has his sights on something bigger, much bigger, after turning his second consecutive 68, for an 8-under-par 136 going into the third round.

His performance for the first two rounds is the best by an amateur since 1956 when Ken Venturi shot 66-69-135.

"I just wanted to put two good rounds up," said Bennett, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion from Madisonville, Texas. "I knew my golf was good enough to compete out here. I found myself in a situation that now I've got a golf tournament I can win."

Bennett is dead serious, and why shouldn't he be? When play was suspended Friday afternoon after he completed his round, he was in third place, trailing leader Brooks Koepka (-12) by four shots, and Jon Rahm (who had played 10 holes), by just one.

On Friday, Bennett made his first bogey of the tournament on the long par-3 fourth hole, when he air-mailed the green and couldn't get up and down. But from the par-5 eighth to the par-4 14th, he birdied four holes, then made pars the rest of the way. Like his first round, his flatstick work was superb with just 27 putts, and he has yet to three-putt. And like his first round, he hit exactly 13 of 18 greens.

As for the other five amateurs in the field, the next closest were Ben Carr, the American Bennett defeated in 2022 U.S. Amateur at Ridgewood Country Club, and Australian Harrison Crowe, the 2022 Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion. Both were at 5-over-par, 13 shots behind Bennett, and well off the cutline. 

Bennett admitted that he's having a dream Masters debut, but believed all along he was capable of this type of performance. His college and amateur experience and success -- he's a fifth-year senior All-American at Texas A&M University -- have all led to this moment, he said, adding that he doesn't even think he will be nervous when he tees it up in the third round in one of the last groups.

He also seems to thrive on pressure, helped a good bit by having his college coach, Brian Kortan, caddying for him as he did in the U.S Amateur.

In each of the first two rounds, he birdied the first hole, and he eagled the par-5 second during Round 1. 

"I love being able to hit shots that matter in front of people," Bennett said. "I used that to my advantage. I felt comfortable out there."

Much this week has been made of the motivation he gets from a tattoo on his left arm that bears advice from his late father, Mark, a dentist who died in 2021 from early onset Alzheimers. The tattoo, displayed in his father's handwriting, reads, "Don't wait to do something." 

sam bennett

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bennett has certainly taken that to heart in his first Masters and then some. "I see it every time I grip the club," he said.

He also seems to be playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Earlier in the week, much was made of the other amateurs in the field, particularly of Gordon Sargent, who was the NCAA individual medalist as a freshman at Vanderbilt last year. The 19-year-old wowed everyone earlier this week with his incredibly fast hips and his swing speed, prompting many to say he might be the longest hitter in the field. Sargent, however, shot 153, nine-over-par, which left him way above the cutline.

"Yeah, I don't hit if far like Sargent. I don't have 190 (mph) ball speed. I don't have a pretty swing like some of the other amateurs," said Bennett, 23, whose only golf lesson came when he was about 7-years-old from Texas pro Brad Lardon.


"It's golf, not golf swing," he added. "I've done the right things this week. I was prepared. I was more experienced than the other guys. And yeah, here I sit with a chance on the weekend to do something special."

Of course, he's not totally immune to his rising celebrity status. His phone and social media were blowing up with direct messages and congratulations on Thursday night. 

"I was laying in bed, scrolling on my phone, and it was nearly midnight, and I couldn't go to sleep. I was looking at what everybody had to say and replying to some people, and I was like, I really need to get some sleep. So I turned it off and put my phone away."

sam bennett

(Image credit: Getty Images)

That is undoubtedly a good strategy for Bennett as he prepares for the final two rounds. But if you think he's getting nervous, think again. He said if his father was here this week, he would be thrilled, of course, but it wouldn't matter if he was in contention or not.

"He could care a less if I went out there and shot 80 as long as I was doing the right things and treating people the right way and being a real gentleman," Bennett said. 

As for his place in history, Bennett can appreciate it, perhaps more after the week is over, but he's not only not focused on it, but he's not even aware of most it, including the fact that 65 years ago that Venturi fellow -- whom Bennett asked if he had ever won a major -- finished second here as an amateur, one of the very best amateur performances in Masters history. Right now, he's more focused on trying to catch and pass Koepka

Why is that a realistic goal?

"Because I know that my good golf is good enough."

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).