The featured groups for the first two days of the 2023 Masters are as star-studded as most would expect, but there is one golfer whose name may not be familiar to the average golf fan.
That would be Sam Bennett.
Bennett is currently playing his second career major, but he will get a chance to tee off with golfers Scottie Scheffler and world No. 1 Max Homa as each vie for a green jacket. He will be one of the seven amateurs playing at the Masters alongside Ben Carr, Harrison Crowe, Mateo Fernandez De Oliveira, Matthew McClean, Aldrich Potgieter and Gordon Sargent.
But who exactly is Sam Bennett and what is his backstory? Here’s what you need to know about the tattooed Texas golfer as he tries to prove himself on the sport’s biggest stage.
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Who is Sam Bennett?
Sam Bennett is a 23-year-old golfer who won the US amateur championship in 2022. This win earned him exceptions to the 2023 Masters and the 2023 Open Championship, both of which he has never competed in before.
The Masters will be the second major tournament Bennett will attend. He qualified for the 2022 US Open and made the cut before finally finishing 49th after finishing the tournament with 10 overs.
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Sam Bennett’s hometown, college and family
Raised in Madisonville, Texas, Bennett was the youngest of Stacy and Mark Bennett’s three sons. He was an active golfer growing up and eventually turned that skill into a college scholarship at nearby Texas A&M. He had been training at the school’s home course, Traditions Club, since he was 13, so it was only natural for him to go to school there, especially as it was close to home.
“I love my family,” he told Golf Channel. “I didn’t want to be far.”
One reason Bennett wanted to be close to home was because his father, Mark, was struggling with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease — a progressive and incurable disease that causes memory loss. It was first diagnosed during Sam Bennett’s high school days, but Mark’s health deteriorated sharply while Sam was in college.
Sam relied on his college coach Brian Kortan, who lost his father when he was young, as part of his support system during Mark’s illness. Finally, in late 2020, he also began taking antidepressants and seeing a sports psychologist to help him cope with persistent anxiety in his life.
“I was tired of feeling this way and I knew I wanted to live a happy life,” Bennett told Golf Channel.
This allowed Bennett to “better calm his overactive mind, channel his nervous energy, and process his new reality” before his father’s death in the summer of 2021.
“I know he’s not sick anymore and he has no problems,” Bennett said. “It gives me peace.”
Still, Bennett wanted to find a way to honor and remember his father. He decided the best way to do this would be with a tattoo.
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Sam Bennett’s tattoos
Bennett has a tattoo on his left forearm that reads “Don’t wait to do something.”
What’s the point? Well, it was the last thing his father wrote while he was battling Alzheimer’s.
As Bennett explained to Golf Channel, his father spoke the words to him in the kitchen one day with a clear mind. Bennett then asked his mother if she could get his father to write the sentence down. She did, and he signed it “Pops.”
Bennett kept this piece of paper in the center console of his Chevy Silverado. Then he decided to get it tattooed on his forearm.
This isn’t Bennett’s only tattoo. He has several on his chest including “five birds for his family members [and] the Methodist Cross for his faith,” per the Golf Channel.
His mother also has several tattoos, including one with an infinity sign with the words “Until we meet again” written inside. This is also in honor of Bennett’s father.
Sam Bennett at the 2023 Masters
To say Bennett made an impression on his first Thursday in Augusta would be an understatement.
He hit a 68 and started his day with a birdie and an eagle on the par 72 course without bogeying a single round throughout his round.
Bennett’s 4-under score over nine holes was the lowest top nine for an amateur in Masters history.
Bennett’s second shot of the day featured a chip-in just past the bunker to give him his eagle of the day.
The amateur goes sixth on Friday’s leaderboard with his 4-under result. No amateur has even won the Masters.
While there’s still a lot of golf left to play this weekend and Bennett still needs some ranking work to do, it’s the best start he could have hoped for. Starting Friday, we’ll see how his stamina is as the weekend progresses at Augusta National.