pulled no punches when he was asked to size up his possible opponents heading into the match play portion of the 122nd U.S. Amateur at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, NJ.
“They’re great players, but I’m a better player,” Bennett said on Tuesday. “I’m the dog in this race.”
On Sunday, the dog had his day, as Bennett defeated Ben Carr
, 1 up, to claim the Havemeyer Trophy.
Bennett's road to the championship took him through a gauntlet of highly-touted players, as the No. 3 amateur in the world from Texas A&M recorded five wins against players at No. 27 or better in the world rankings, including three opponents ranked in the top-10.
Standing in the way of Bennett and the Havemeyer Trophy on Sunday at Ridgewood was Carr, a fifth-year senior at Georgia Southern who had a memorable run of his own to reach the title match.
Bennett never trailed Carr in Sunday's championship match, taking a 3-up lead at the halfway point after being tied through eight. Back-to-back birdies at 20 and 21 saw Bennett’s advantage increase to 5 up.
However, Carr, a three-time All-Sun Belt Conference selection, battled back and whittled the lead to just one with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th.
Needing a win on the 36th hole to extend the match, Carr's tee shot missed the fairway to the right and when his second shot didn't find the green, he needed to chip in for all intents and purposes to win the hole. His chip came out soft and Bennett had two putts from 12 feet to win. He lagged his first to within inches for the win.
“I got off to a hot start, then after lunch, he started dropping in putts and chips from everywhere,” Bennett said. “It made me nervous. I got pretty tight.
“It means everything,” Bennett said about the victory. “It's a dream come true. ... It means a lot to hold that trophy."
"Congrats to Sam, he's a great player and a great guy," said Carr. "We had a great battle out there. It was everything you dream about as a kid. It didn't work out the way I wanted but I couldn't have lost to a better competitor."
A native of Madisonville, Texas, Bennett is the first player from Texas A&M to lift the Havemeyer Trophy and the first Texan since Kelly Kraft (2011) to win the championship.
Both finalists exemptions to the U.S. Open next year at Los Angeles Country Club and a likely invitation to the Masters, while Carr also receives an exemption into the British Open.
ABOUT THE U.S. Amateur
The U.S. Amateur, the oldest USGA
championship, was first played in 1895 at
Newport Golf Club in Rhode Island. The
which has no age restriction, is open to
with a Handicap Index of 2.4 or lower. It is
of 14 national championships conducted
annually by the USGA, 10 of which are
for amateurs. It is the pre-eminent
competition in the world.
Applications are typically placed online in the spring
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