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Sam Bennett’s Emotional Augusta Finish

Moments after the crowd around the 18th green gave amateur Sam Bennett a standing ovation at Augusta National, he broke down with emotion as he hugged his mom.

“He literally lost it,” said Stacy Bennett. “They were big, big, big tears. I know he was overwhelmed with emotion, but I know he was missing his daddy, too.” 

The first amateur to enter the final round in the top 10 at the tournament through 54 holes since Deane Beman in 1964, Bennett knew he needed a couple of birdies coming down the stretch to finish in the top 12 and secure an invitation back to Augusta National in 2024.

While he came up short after a final-round 74 left him in a share of 16th, Bennett said his walk up the 18th was the coolest experience of his life. After signing his scorecard, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion soon found himself inside Butler Cabin as low amateur, seated next to champion Jon Rahm. The logjam of pros who finished tied with Bennett at 2-under earned $261,000 for their efforts. As an amateur, he did not.

“From growing up as a kid watching this tournament to losing my dad to the struggles I’ve faced and still face,” he said, “to be able to walk up that green on 18 on a Sunday, Easter Sunday, and just be appreciative of everything, I thought — I mean, if you had told me I was going to be here when I was a kid, I would have thought you were crazy.”

Bennett’s father, Mark, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and some of the last words he spoke to Sam — “Don’t wait to do something” — are tattooed on Sam’s left forearm in his father’s handwriting. Mark died in June 2021.

Stacy described Texas A&M coach Brian Kortan, who caddied for her son, as almost a substitute father.

“Sam has had some mental health struggles,” said Stacy, “and he’s talked about that before. Coach helps him to level out and be calm, teaching him how to calm that anxiety. He’s been really just a rock, he really has, especially this week.

Bennett, 23, admitted that fatigue got to him over the weekend. Saturday’s cold, wet, and windy conditions were downright miserable and left the course playing particularly long. The 5-foot-10-inch fifth-year senior said he needed to gain weight and speed for the next level. 

“My body wasn’t moving how it should be,” he said. “That’s why I had the driver slotted the first two rounds, and then my legs kind of gave out. It wasn’t turning and started missing them left.”

Bennett’s 8-under total through 36 holes was the second-best for an amateur in Masters history, behind only Ken Venturi, who shot one better in 1956.

After play was suspended on Saturday afternoon, Bennett headed to Dick’s to load up on warmer clothes and dined with his buddies at Five Guys. Bennett said he was recognized everywhere he went.

“I mean, they love amateurs at Augusta,” he beamed. “I felt it all week.”


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