‘Itching’ to turn pro, Sam Bennett shoots 71 in debut at Memorial
DUBLIN, Ohio – Sam Bennett has hit countless opening tee shots but Thursday’s start at the Memorial marked a fresh beginning for the darling of this year’s Masters.
Bennett, who was in third place going into the weekend at Augusta National before finishing tied for 16th, made his professional debut at Muirfield Village with a 1-under 71 that left him three off the early Day 1 lead.
Bennett said he’d been anticipating his jump to professional golf for a long time but once he was on the first tee everything felt normal. When asked what he needs to do to experience success as a pro, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion said, “Just quit living like a college kid. I’ll probably start with that.”
After his performance at the Masters, Bennett returned to Texas A&M to finish his fifth year on the golf team, but he admitted the call of professional golf was always there.
“I was itching. But I knew what was at stake [for his final season],” Bennett said. “I came back for my fifth year and I wanted to respect my team, respect my decision, they’re first and foremost. And tour golf’s always going to be there for me. I wanted to have one last run at a national championship with my team.”
Competing in this week’s NCAA Championships, Texas A&M failed to qualify for match play and Bennett finished T-74 as an individual.
His college career over as of Monday, Bennett said he’s playing next week at the RBC Canadian Open and is also playing the U.S. Open (he did not have to remain an amateur to use his U.S. Am victory exemption) the following week. He’ll likely receive more sponsor exemptions before the end of the season and also has status on the Korn Ferry Tour this year via his fifth-place finish on the final PGA Tour University rankings.