A year ago, Sam Bennett grabbed the attention of the golf world at Augusta National
09 Apr 2024
by Justin Golba of

see also: The Masters Tournament, Augusta National Golf Club, Sam Bennett Rankings

Sam Bennett (Texas A&M Athletics Photo)
Sam Bennett (Texas A&M Athletics Photo)

Last year, amongst the main storyline of the PGA Tour against LIV at the Master’s Tournament, it was amateur Sam Bennett who stole the show for the weekend.

Bennett wasted no time making his mark on the tournament, birding the first hole and eagling the second hole. He shot a 4-under 68 and was T6 after the first round. 

Bennett was in solo third place heading into the weekend and was just four shots back of Brook Koepka after back-to-back rounds of 4-under 68 in the first two rounds. He shot a third-round 4-over 76 in tough conditions to fall to T7 and finished T16 at 2-under after a final-round 2-over 74. He finished as the 2023 low-amateur. 

A week Sam Bennett will never forget

Brian Kortan, Bennett’s coach at Texas A&M, was his caddie for the tournament, as well as his caddie in the 2022 U.S. Amateur, where Bennett defeated Ben Carr in the final match to win. 

“It was such a cool experience, not just because he played well but also because of how he and we were treated,” Kortan said. “The players and the people at Augusta take so much pride in the exercise. It was a great experience on top of some great golf, so they did such a wonderful job.”

Kortan added, “I have known Sam for a long time, so there was no change in what I knew or didn’t know, but he is someone who, when he is playing with a high level of confidence, is capable of so much.”

Kortan saw this confidence in full form at the 2022 U.S. Amateur when Bennett pulled his version of a Babe Ruth and successfully called his own shot.

Sam Bennett crowned 122nd U.S. Amateur champion

“We were playing in the first or second round of qualifying, and he said, ‘If I could just qualify to match play, I am going to win,'” Kortan said about Bennett. "He told me he was going to win, and sure enough, he did. It wasn’t arrogance; it was just the belief he had in how well he was playing. He was really fresh and had taken some time off that summer, and he was ready to compete.” 

Kortan was Bennett’s head coach and enjoyed that role when Bennett was playing as an Aggie, but when he was caddying for Bennett, he played more of a dual role. Half coach, half-life mentor.

“We have a relationship where our conversations are different depending on the question,” Kortan said. “He will ask me a coach question and then a life question.”

It is a perfect combination of trust and ability for both of them.

“On the course, we work well together,” Kortan said. “We have been around each other so much that we think alike, and quite honestly, we play similar styles of golf, too. He trusts me, and I trust him, so when I tell him he needs to do something on the course or he has to hit a specific shot on the course, he can do it, and vice versa. When he tells me that he wants to do something, I tell him that he can do that.”

Kortan already knew what the world learned that week, that Bennetts game can translate anywhere.

"When he got through Amen (corner) the first day, the quality of shots he hit there and playing the par 5s the way he did, with the discipline they required, I felt comfortable with where he was because I knew he was comfortable with where he was," Kortan said. 

Another thing that helped Bennett was his pairing. The U.S. Amateur champion is always paired with the defending Master’s champion, being Scottie Scheffler and the third in their group was Max Homa. 

“It helped to play with Scottie,” Kortan said about Bennett getting comfortable. “He was great to him and a true competitor and gentleman on the golf course, and Max was the same, and they made it easy for him to feel comfortable.” 

Can any amateurs duplicate the success that Bennett had last season? The task won't be easy, but Bennett proved it is possible.

ABOUT THE The Masters

One of Golf's four professional majors traditionally invites amateurs who have reached the finals of the US Amateur, or won the British Amateur or the US Mid Amateur. Also included are the winners of the relatively new Asia Pacific Amateur and Latin American Amateur.

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