Masters breakout star Sam Bennett off to strong start at U.S. Open

Sam Bennett, who made headlines for his exceptional play at the Masters this year, is proving that his performance at Augusta was no fluke.

At one point, Bennett was in sole possession of second place at the Masters before ultimately finishing T16, tied with major winners Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Rose. He was awarded with the Silver Cup after his performance as the low amateur.

And now the reigning U.S. Amateur Champion is currently settled into the top 10 at the U.S. Open after shooting a 68 on Friday. Bennett had three birdies, 14 pars and one bogey. He also had a decent start to the tournament on Thursday with an opening round score of 67.

Bennett, the 2022 SEC Golfer of the Year, was in no rush to go pro after a solid four years at Texas A&M. As a senior, he broke the Aggies’ record for lowest stroke average at 69.97. He opted to return to College Station for a fifth year of school at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

“I wanted to mature a little bit,” he said on Friday. “ I got to play the Masters, and the Tour events I played in college was a big help for now when I get out here professionally. I was experienced and I kind of didn’t get a slow start. I felt comfortable. I still do.”

He finally made his professional debut just a few weeks ago at the RBC Canadian Open, finishing T20 at 8-under par.

Bennett, who grew up in tiny Madisonville, Texas (pop. 4,565), says he doesn’t feel like an outsider on one of the biggest stages in golf.

“Just the experience I got playing the weekend at the Open, the weekend at the Masters, I feel like I belong and I’m comfortable on this stage,” he said.

While he may be playing for bigger crowds and at higher stakes, his approach to his game has largely been unchanged. He’s still focusing on the basics and doesn’t get involved with the numbers side of the game. Bennett doesn’t even work with a coach.

“I’m just not numbers-based or anything,” he said after his first round. “Yeah, I’m swinging the best when I’m not thinking of nothing. That’s when I tend to play good under some pressure because I’m not thinking of anything and I just let my body take over.”

Bennett’s approach to the game served him well at the Masters, and he’s holding on in the U.S. Open so far. With two rounds left, he’s in prime position to have another solid position to kick off his pro days.