Sam Bennett, trying to become the first amateur golfer to win The Masters, thinks of his late father every time he grips a club.
That’s because the advice stressed by Bennett’s father Mark, who died in June 2021 due to Alzheimer’s disease, is summed up by the tattoo on his left arm.
“I see it every time I’m gripping the club, it’s right there: ‘Don’t wait to do something,'” Bennett said.
“I thrive on it. I use it for some motivation. I know how happy he would be seeing me out here at Augusta National doing what I’m doing. This week, I’ve used it to just stay focused and really be locked into that one shot.”
Bennett, the reigning US Amateur champion, opened with back-to-back rounds of four-under 68 to stand third on six-under 136 to join leader Brooks Koepka and world No 3 Jon Rahm in the third round’s final trio.
“I got off to a dream start and then was able to keep going and gain some ground,” Bennett said. “I knew my golf was good enough to compete out here.”
Now Bennett knows something else.
“I found myself in a situation that now I’ve got a golf tournament I can go out and win,” Bennett said.
Bennett opened Saturday’s third round with back-to-back bogeys and seven adrift of leader Koepka on six under when heavy rains postponed play until Sunday.
After 36 holes, Bennett was one off The Masters’ midway amateur record set in 1956 by Ken Venturi, who led the first three rounds before settling for second place.
It has been 90 years since an amateur player won any Major title. That was Johnny Goodman at the 1933 US Open, a year before the first playing of the Masters.
Augusta National was founded by amateur legend Bobby Jones, a four-time US Open and three-time Open champion who presence is felt in the design of the famed layout, photos of him on the clubhouse walls and his advice on places to watch along the course – still found in the spectators’ guide.
But Bennett ponders another spiritual presence this week under the Georgia pines – his dad.
“I’ve thought a lot about him while walking this beautiful course,” said Bennett. “Just how cool he would have thought this was. I’m sure he’s looking down.”
And while his dad would be proud of Bennett’s historic shotmaking, the 24-year-old American said his father would be prouder of his character.
“He has never cared about golf score or anything. He could care less if I went out there and shot 80 as long as I was doing the right things and treating people the right way and being a real gentleman,” Bennett said.
“He would think this would be cool with what I have to come in the weekend. But more so than anything, the guy that I’ve become, he would be appreciative of.”
Bennett, who received his only golf lesson while in the seventh grade, is joined this week by his Texas A&M college coach, Brian Kortan, who serves as his caddie this week.
“I can talk to him about literally anything I want. We’re having fun out there,” Bennett said. “Without him, I would not be able to be in the situation that I am. Just some of the numbers he has given me, some of the club selections, some of the stuff he said to help me calm down, all credit to him.”
READ: Koepka eyes Masters prize on marathon Sunday
"Don't wait to do something."
Sam Bennett's late father gives him inspiration before every single shot.
Today, he made history. pic.twitter.com/hhEFZFGv9n
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 6, 2023
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