Who is Sam Bennett? 6 things to know about the Masters amateur contender

Sam Bennett hits a drive during the 2023 Masters.

Sam Bennett is off to a historic start.

Darren Riehl/GOLF

While Brooks Koepka has brought Augusta National to its knees over the first two rounds of this year’s Masters, Sam Bennett may be stealing some of his thunder.

The reigning U.S. Amateur Champion has blown away all expectations after opening with a record-setting bogey-free round of 68 Thursday. On Friday, he backed it up with a second 68 to go into the weekend four shots behind Koepka, who leads at 12 under.

Here are 6 things to know about the surprise Masters contender.

6 things to know about Sam Bennett

2022 U.S. Amateur win got him here

Bennett was also a surprise winner at last summer’s U.S. Amateur at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey. The fifth-year star at Texas A&M defeated Georgia Southern’s Ben Carr (who missed the cut this week after posting a 149) in a thrilling 36-hole final 1 Up.

Sam Bennett
‘The golfing gods and him were working in my favor:’ Sam Bennett holds on to win U.S. Amateur
By: Jack Hirsh

The final match was an unlikely pairing after many pre-tournament favorites like Travis Vick, Gordon Sargent and Michael Thorbjornsen bowed out early. Bennett was one of the few top names, then third in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, left by the semifinals.

Like all other amateurs, he’s staying in the crow’s nest atop the Augusta National clubhouse this week, although it will probably be a little less crowded this weekend.

He has a tattoo with a quote from his late father

“Don’t wait to do something,” reads the inscription on his left forearm. The message was the last his father ever wrote to him before he passed away in June 2021 after a battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Bennett now looks at the tattoo before every swing.

Five career NCAA victories for Texas A&M

His last win was in the fall at the John A. Burnes Intercollegiate in Hawaii where he shot 18 under and finished with an 11-under 61. During his senior season in 2021-22, he was the SEC Golfer of the Year and a finalist for the Fred Haskins Award, given to the nation’s top golfer.

Multi-sport athlete

Bennett played four different sports in high school. From his freshman year to junior year, Bennett was named first-team All-District in basketball and was Freshman of the Year in 2015. In baseball, he was honored as Defensive MVP during his junior year and won his sophomore year District Individual and Doubles Championships in tennis.

He’s off to a historic start

Bennett’s back-to-back 68s are the lowest rounds by any amateur in a major since Viktor Hovland posted a 67 at the 2019 U.S. Open. He’s the first player since Jim Gallagher Jr. in 1991 to go bogey-free in his first round at the Masters and the 68 was also the lowest round by an amateur in his first round since Ken Venturi in 1956.

Bennett is also chasing Venturi in the history books as the future U.S. Open winner owns the best-ever finish by an amateur at the Masters. He was the runner-up in 1956. His eight-under 136 through two rounds is also the best score by an amateur since Venturi.

He won’t make a dime this week

Times have changed and Bennett has NIL deals with Ping, Suncast and Veritex Bank, so this isn’t entirely true, but as an amateur Bennett cannot win anything from the tournament purse this week. Last year’s winner, Scottie Scheffler, took home $2.7 million while the second (Rory McIlroy) and third-place finishers won $1.62 million and $1.02 million (Shane Lowry and Cam Smith tied for third and took home $870,000 each).

Bennett can, of course, still win the green jacket.

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.



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