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An amateur at the Masters


The Masters, one of the biggest golf tournaments on the Professional Golfers Association tour, occurred between April 6 to 9, 2023. In a sport like golf it’s pretty typical for winners to be different every week, however this year the masters had a lot of surprises. 52 year old Phil Mickelson shocked many fans as he tied for second place. John Rahm won the tournament, knocking Brooks Koepka, who is playing for the Saudi Arabian lead league LIV, into a tie for second. However, perhaps the most shocking was the performance of Sam Bennett. 


Bennett is an amateur golfer who won the United States amateur tournament in 2023. Bennett is a current college student at Texas A&M University and has competed in many tournaments around the country trying to make the PGA tour.


Bennett’s story is unique and made it so many Americans couldn’t help but root for him. Sam’s father passed away in 2020, which was hard for Sam not only personally but professionally, as his father was one of his coaches. Bennett shared his father’s story through interviews and a tattoo that he has on his forearm. The tattoo is a note from his father saying “don’t wait to do something great.”


Bennett did indeed do something great by tying for 16th in his first professional tournament. Many are excited to see how far he’s going to go in golf. However, his success also led to a lot of conversations on how amateurs are paid on tour. Because Bennett is not a professional golfer through the PGA, he did not win any prize money despite placing in the top 16.


However, since Bennett is a college athlete, he has secured money in name-image-likeness endorsements that college athletes and amateur golfers can collect. For many trying to make it in golf the lack of money that amateurs are paid hinders their ability to put all of their effort into the sport. Sam Bennett provides an example of not only an inspiring story of perseverance but also of the myriad ways that new amateurs can break onto the scene with enough finances to make it into the professional leagues.

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