AUGUSTA, Georgia : Sam Bennett has the last words his father Mark wrote before dying from Alzheimer’s tattooed on his left forearm: “Don’t wait to do something.”
Those are words the 23-year-old amateur is living by this week, putting his mark on the Masters in the form of two near spotless rounds of 68 to sit alone in third, four shots back of four-time major winner Brooks Koepka when second-round play was halted on Friday due to stormy weather.
The tattoo serves as a constant reminder, visible to Bennett each time he grips his club, and a source of motivation as he bids to become the first amateur to wear the coveted Green Jacket.
“I see it every time I’m gripping the club, it’s right there,” said Bennett, after Friday’s second round. “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.”
What the reigning U.S. Amateur champion is doing is attacking the Masters record book.
After tying the Masters mark for lowest front nine score by an amateur in his opening round on Thursday, Bennett followed up with a second 68 on Friday for a 136 total that is the second lowest 36-hole score by an amateur at the Masters since Ken Venturi in 1956.
“Those are two solid rounds,” said Bennett with a charming and striking self-assurance. “I knew what I was capable of but yeah, two 68s at Augusta, my first time as an amateur, yeah.”
Playing in a group with world number one and defending champion Scottie Scheffler against an elite field that includes greats like Tiger Woods, Bennett has not been awed by the big stage – exhibiting a confidence that belies his amateur status.
Asked if he believed he could reel in Koepka and win the Masters, Bennett did not hesitate.
“I know that my good golf is good enough,” said Bennett. “I think I got what it takes to win. I feel like I belong on this stage.”
Many with far more experience have succumbed to the Masters jitters that Bennett seems oblivious to.
Rather than obsessing over the challenge ahead, Bennett said he was going to “hang with his buddies” and “have a little fun tonight.”
While the Masters may be just reaching the midway point, Bennett declared the hard work over and said if it all goes wrong then it’s back to school.
“The hard work’s done. I made the cut as an amateur,” smiled Bennett.
“Now it’s time for me to go out and enjoy, soak it all in, be able to play the weekend at the Masters. I’ll just be out there enjoying it.
“If I play good, I play good and if I play bad, I go back to my home school and compete in my home tournament Thursday.”