Masters 2023: Happy but exhausted, Augusta's amateur star Sam Bennett opts out of Texas college event
Amateur Sam Bennett hits a shot from the 12th tee on Sunday at the Masters.
Sam Bennett’s heart said one thing. His legs screamed another. In the end, his tired body won out over his wanting mind.
The reigning U.S. Amateur champion who made a huge splash in the Masters last week by contending into the weekend said on Sunday night that he’d like to compete on Monday in the Aggie Invitational hosted by his college team, Texas A&M. The effort would have required Bennett to walk for 36 holes on the first day and 18 on the second.
Exhausted, but clearly torn, the fifth-year senior said after visiting Butler Cabin as the tournament’s low amateur at two under, “I don't have many more college tournaments left, so I'd like to play in my home event,” the fifth-year senior said on Sunday. “I came back to school to be with my team and do that, so I think I want to play.”
Bennett returned to College Station, Texas, on Sunday night and got a rousing welcome. But by Monday morning he’d decided that he just couldn’t pull off playing in the Aggie. So, he wasn’t among Texas A&M’s six starters when they teed off.
The Aggie faithful will forgive him. Bennett, 23, put the program in the biggest spotlight possible when he opened his first Masters by shooting 68-68 and being among those near the top of the leaderboard heading into the third round. He ultimately struggled on the weekend by shooting 76-74, but he became an inspiration to so many amateurs who dream of making their mark on one of golf’s biggest stages.
“From growing up as a kid watching this tournament, to losing my dad, to the struggles I've faced and still face—to be able to walk up that green on 18 on a Sunday, Easter Sunday, and just be appreciative of everything … if you had told me I was going to be here when I was a kid, I would have thought you were crazy,” Bennett said.
Bennett was left thrilled, but exhausted by the experience, which is why the well-deserved rest of Monday was no surprise.
“I was tired this weekend. I think that's what it was,” he said on Sunday. “My body wasn't moving how it should be. 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. … I think I need to get in a little better shape, get in the gym.”