‘I don’t pull the trigger until I’m ready’: U.S. Am champ Sam Bennett responds to slow-play critics

Sam Bennett said anxiety is a factor in his pre-shot routine.

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Sam Bennett needed every last hole to nab victory at the 2022 U.S. Amateur Championship at Ridgewood Country Club. The USGA’s oldest championship (naturally) came down to the very last hole, the 36th of the day in his duel with opponent Ben Carr.

When Bennett finally won 1 up, drama of a different sort was brewing on social media. The issue, according to tournament observers, was Bennett’s pre-shot routine, which frequently included multiple re-grippings and foot shuffles before he hit the ball — reminiscent of Sergio Garcia in the early 2000s.

In the aftermath of his big win, Bennett defended his method on Golf Digest’s The Loop podcast.

“I got a bunch of heat,” Bennett said. “I just want to tell those people: I already have anxiety. It’s pretty bad. Having anxiety and then getting over a golf ball with all these thoughts in your head, and then put me in that moment at the U.S. Am with the whole golf world watching. I mean, what can you expect?

“It’s always been like that,” he continued. “I don’t pull the trigger until I’m ready. I mean, it’s not a certain amount of looks, it’s just kinda whenever I’m ready.”

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Bennett then mentioned that he’s heard plenty of negative things about his game: that his golf swing won’t hold up, his re-gripping methods will cause him issues and his play is too slow.

“It doesn’t matter what it looks like. It matters what score you make on the hole, that’s it,” he said. “It’s called golf, not golf swing. There’s hate everywhere.”

Bennett did concede that the U.S. Amateur’s grand stage may have exacerbated some of his existing routines, though.

“Definitely this week, the re-gripping and the extra looks were a little more severe than they usually are,” he said.

With his victory, golf fans can look forward to watching Bennett in three of the four major championships next year, as long as he retains his amateur status. Bennett is currently a fifth-year senior at Texas A&M.

You can listen to Bennett’s entire interview here.

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As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.