After rising to fame as the low amateur at the recent Masters, Sam Bennett is ready to make a living playing golf.
Bennett, a highly decorated collegiate golfer at Texas AM, will make his professional debut at this week's Memorial Tournament.
The 23-year-old has already played in PGA Tour events as an amateur and gained entry into majors as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, but this week will be different at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
"I'm excited," Bennett said. "College was great, it was fun. But now I'm ready to take my game to the next level and I got a good opportunity here at The Memorial here this week to get started. I got this and then RBC (Canadian Open) next week and then U.S. Open. So nice little three-week stretch to start my professional career off."
Bennett played his last collegiate tournament, the NCAA Championships, this past weekend in Scottsdale, Ariz. He tied for 74th individually (15-over-par 295) as Texas AM finished 13th at Grayhawk Golf Club.
But his performance in April at Augusta National still seems fresh and was a subject of his Wednesday press conference.
He carded two rounds of 68, played with the lead group on Saturday and finished in a tie for 16th at 2 under to earn the Silver Cup as low amateur.
"That was awesome," Bennett said of playing with the final group on Saturday at the Masters. "That was a great experience. I wasn't nervous. I really wasn't. Like I said, I'm experienced, but it definitely helped to see what those guys do daily. I just learned that I need to play my game and my good golf's good enough to compete."
Bennett put together a strong college career, collecting All-American and Southeastern Conference Golfer of the Year honors along the way.
By finishing in the top five (fifth) in the PGA Tour University Ranking, Bennett earned fully exempt status membership on the Korn Ferry Tour, the main feeder of the PGA Tour.
His finish also made him exempt for the final stage of the 2023 PGA Tour Q-School. If he makes the top five there, he will earn a PGA Tour card and the right to accept unlimited PGA Tour sponsor exemptions for 2023 and 2024.
"That's incredible what PGA Tour U has done for college golfers," Bennett said. "In the past, you could be the best college golfer and not be guaranteed anything coming out the gate. So Ludvig (Aberg) got 1, now he has temporary membership and then 2 through 5 we get unlimited starts this year and next. So it's definitely helping the college game in every aspect."
Sweden's Aberg earned his PGA Tour card Monday night by finishing the college golf season No. 1 in the PGA Tour University rankings.
For Bennett, who was officially announced as the newest member of golf equipment manufacturer Ping's Tour staff on Wednesday, he's past being in awe of the pros. Now he's one of them.
"I felt like I'm experienced, like I said, and, yeah, I mean it's cool, but I'm ready to do this for a living now," Bennett said. "I mean, it's cool, but this is right where I want to be."
--Field Level Media