124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2


Masters 2023: This amateur just did something that hasn't been done in 30 years at Augusta National

April 06, 2023

Patrick Smith

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Reigning NCAA champ Gordon Sargent was the amateur Masters darling early this week, gaining rave reviews from Rory McIlroy and Max Homa. But once the tournament started, reigning U.S. Amateur champ Sam Bennett made sure to steal the am attention by doing something that hasn’t been done in three decades.

Bennett, a fifth-year senior at Texas A&M, turned in an opening-round 68 at Augusta National Thursday to sit just three back of the lead in a tie for sixth.

“This morning I was anxious. I was fiddling around. I couldn't really sit still. I was ready to get off that box,” Bennett said. “I just enjoy it. That's where I want to be, to be able to hit those shots with the crowds and the pressure. I loved it. Like I've said multiple times, I'm experienced. I feel like I'm ready for this stage. I haven't played my best in college golf, but when the pressure is on, I tend to play pretty well.”

Bennett threw his name on the leader board early in his round thanks to a birdie-eagle start, chipping in for 3 at the second hole. Though Bennett would add just one more red figure on the afternoon he kept the big numbers at bay, turning in a clean card in his Masters debut.

“There's very few things that I like more than playing a round of golf bogey-free,” Bennett said afterwards. “To make that four-footer for par, what do they say? It's going to make dinner taste better.”

If that sounds impressive, it is, as Bennett is the first amateur in the last 30 to post a bogey-free round.

The 68 is the lowest score by an amateur at the Masters since James Driscoll’s 68 in 2002, although just short of Ken Venturi’s record of 66.

Amateurs haven’t made the cut at the last two Masters, and Bennett seems well on his way to keeping that from becoming a streak. Of greater note, the last time an amateur finished in the top 15 was Ryan Moore back in 2005 (T-13) with the last top 10 coming in 1962.