GOLF

American Amateur 2022: Confident superstar Sam Bennett prevails in 36-hole final against Ben Carr

ADVERTISEMENT

In the middle of the 122nd US Amateur, Texas A&M superstar, and world No. 3 amateur, Sam Bennett gave the quote of the week. Then he came out the last few days and completely backed off.

Bennett beat Ben Carr 1 in the 36-hole final after building a big lead on the morning 18 and narrowly maintaining it in the afternoon in a goofy – but ultimately satisfying – end to the new champion of the USGA. Both players will likely receive Masters invitations and both are at the 2023 US Open at the Los Angeles Country Club, but only Bennett gets the Havemeyer Trophy for the next 12 months.

ADVERTISEMENT

But first, let’s go over how Bennett got into that position on Sunday to start. After shooting 71-73 in the week’s stroke play, Bennett finished T30 to advance to match play, where he faced an incredible string of players he sent back to back.

First, Bennett needed seven birdies and 19 holes to oust Nick Gabrelcik, who is the 13th ranked amateur in the world. After that, there was a resounding 6 and 5 victory against the 27th amateur in the world, the Brazilian Fred Biondi. Then a 4-2 win over Spaniard David Puig, who played in the LIV Golf League and is ranked No. 10 in the world. He knocked out former Masters amateur bottom Stewart Hagestad (WAGR No. 9) in the quarter-finals – then came the quote.

“They’re great players, but I’m a better player,” Bennett said after beating Walker Cupper Hagestad three times. “No. 3 in the standings, and I feel like the best player. I’m the dog in this race. I’ve played the best golf so far. Yesterday I was 10 under at 29 “Today I didn’t quite have it, but I got the job done. I have Menante tomorrow. Obviously he’s playing well, another tough opponent. I think it’s going to be a good game.

Bennett started his week with a club has been twirling for ages against Dylan Menante in the semi-finals – where he won 1 place – before the final against Carr, where Bennett never trailed. It even looked like he was going to Saki Baba Carr at one point (a reference to last week’s US Women’s Amateur, where Saki Baba won 11 and 9 over Monet Chun). But Carr fought back with several birdies from the green in the afternoon game, and then the end ruined the whole event.

“It was what you dreamed of as a kid,” Carr told NBC of the 36-hole day and crazy final hour. “It didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, but I couldn’t have lost to a better competitor.”

On the par-5 14th, Carr had an opening when Bennett hooked his second out of bounds, but Carr then did the same on his approach and they split the hole with bogeys. A hole later, Bennett missed a 3-footer to kick another hole to take just a 2-foot lead over the final four holes. Incredibly, Carr also won the 17th to move up to No. 18 just a hole. After not being tied or leading for a single hole in the afternoon, it looked like Carr might finally catch Bennett.

“I got off to a good start, and after lunch he started throwing putts and chips all over the place,” Bennett told NBC after the game. “It made me nervous. I was quite tense when it started to happen. [Caddie and A&M golf coach Brian Kortan] managed to calm me down and… stick to what we’ve been doing all week.”

Carr stalled his drive on the final hole and was half-stuck behind a tree with very little birdie hope. Bennett followed with another monster whirlwind and the drama was miniscule over the final 10 minutes. Bennett won the 122nd US Amateur with a tap-in par.

“It’s a dream come true,” he told NBC. “It doesn’t even seem real, looking at all these people on the 18th green at Ridgewood. I don’t even know what I’m saying right now. It means a lot to hold this trophy. I’m sure tonight I I I’ll take a look at all the names, but I know Tiger Woods’ name is in there three times, and putting my name next to his is something quite special.”

Bennett is not a winner by chance. He is one of the top three amateurs in the world, was the 2022 SEC Player of the Year, and has played in four professional events as an amateur. He made the cut at this year’s US Open, finishing T49, ahead of the likes of Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau and Viktor Hovland.

Bennett’s week – from his quote to his twirls to how he carried himself as the alpha of Ridgewood Country Club – provides a great insight into how the best golfers, amateurs and professionals, must keep a comedic level of self-confidence to compete at the level of winning a US Amateur. Although it doesn’t always go well due to the fact that there can only be one champion at the end of the week, and anything that isn’t considered a failure by the public is is still a necessity, even if some are less vocal. about that Bennett was all along.

It can also be a separator. Bennett clearly never lost faith as you could almost see his finals opponent, Carr, slip in and out depending on the hole. And while it’s easy to dunk on players who put themselves forward – “I’m the dog in this race” – it’s much harder to express your belief and then end one of the most grueling weeks. golf like Bennett did. .

In the end, Bennett’s self-confidence won the week and the respect of his competitors. Because anyone can grind and anyone can talk, he’s a rare player who can back up his confidence with the kind of grind that wins American fans over. Bennett was that player this week, and in doing so, he pulled off the toughest feat in the sport: telling everyone you’re the best in the game, then going out and proving it.

ADVERTISEMENT