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Masters 2023: The story of Sam Bennett’s tattoo is both inspiring and heartbreaking

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If you’ve watched any of the first two days of the Masters, then you’ve probably heard the name Sam Bennett mentioned a time or two. The reigning U.S. Amateur champion earned a marquee pairing with defending Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and multiple PGA Tour winner Max Homa and didn’t flinch under the spotlight. On Thursday, Bennett shot a bogey-free four-under 68, same score as Scheffler, to finish inside the top 10 after 18 holes—and post the lowest score by an amateur since 2001.

Needless to say, the assumption among many was that Bennett Thursday’s euphoria would move into Friday’s reality check. But that hasn’t been the case. The 23-year-old amateur did finally make a bogey (on the par-3 fourth), but he also made five birdies on the day to move into solo second place at eight under for the tournament. Granted he’s four back of leader Brooks Koepka, but he’s also become one of the surprise stories of the week. The last time an amateur was in solo second at the Masters after 36 holes was 1958.

Suffice it to say, the fifth-year senior at Texas A&M has plenty of talent—he was the No. 1 ranked amateur in the world for a while and been a two-time All-American with the Aggies (his coach, Brian Kortan, is on the bag at Augusta National this week). But Bennett also has been through a lot to get to where he is at this point. Bennett’s father, Mark, who got Sam into the game growing up in Madisonville, Texas, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's in 2013 at age 45. He would die from the debilitating disease in 2021, just as Sam was hitting his stride in college.

Bennett wanted to find a way to remember his father, and he did it in the form of a tattoo on his left forearm that had the inscription of a saying Mark told him … and wrote out on a piece of paper to his son in June 2020. They were the last words Mark was ever able to write.

“Don’t wait to do something.”

Sam took the paper to a tattoo parlor and had the written words in Mark’s handwriting inked on his arm.

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"He was the reason why I started playing golf and why I wanted to be good to impress him,” Bennett told GolfChannel.com [Looking at the tattoo] is like a new pre-shot routine that I do now right before I'm about to hit it. I look at it and I'm like 'don't wait to do something.' It's something that will always stick and he means the world to me."

It’s worth your time to read this in-depth profile from Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner, who goes into more detail about the difficulty Sam had coping with the loss of his father.

There’s also a good video here from the PGA Tour: