Sam Bennett had a dream start to his first Masters appearance, shooting a six-under 66 in the opening round and taking a share of the lead at Augusta National.
The 25-year-old Australian, who qualified for the tournament by winning the Australian Open in December, showed no signs of nerves as he birdied six of his first 11 holes and made some clutch putts to save par on the back nine.
Bennett continued his impressive form in the second round, carding a three-under 69 to stay in contention. He was one of only four players to break 70 in both rounds, along with Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama. He also became the first player since Jordan Spieth in 2015 to lead or co-lead after both rounds in his Masters debut.
However, the weekend proved to be more challenging for Bennett, as he struggled to keep up with the pace set by Matsuyama, who surged ahead with a stunning 65 on Saturday.
Bennett shot a one-over 73 in the third round, dropping to a tie for seventh place, six shots behind the Japanese leader. He still had a chance to secure a top-12 finish, which would guarantee him an invitation to the 2024 Masters, but he needed to make some birdies on Sunday.
Bennett started well, making two birdies in his first four holes to move to eight under for the tournament. He then bogeyed the fifth and seventh holes, but bounced back with another birdie on the eighth. He made the turn at seven under, still within reach of the top-12 goal.
However, he could not find any more birdies on the back nine, and made two costly bogeys on the 14th and 16th holes. He finished with a one-over 73 again, and a six-under total of 282.
That left him in a tie for 14th place, two shots short of the top-12 mark. He missed out on an automatic return to Augusta National by a whisker, but he still earned a lot of respect and admiration for his brilliant performance in his maiden Masters. He also moved up to a career-high 35th in the world rankings, and secured his spot in the other three majors this year.
Bennett was gracious and humble in defeat, congratulating Matsuyama on his historic victory and thanking his fans and supporters for their encouragement. He said he learned a lot from his experience at Augusta National, and vowed to come back stronger and better next time.
“I’m proud of myself for how I played this week. It was an amazing feeling to be in contention at the Masters, and I enjoyed every moment of it. I gave it my best shot, but it wasn’t quite enough. I’m disappointed that I couldn’t get into the top-12, but I’m happy with my overall result. It was a great week for me,” he said.
“I want to congratulate Hideki on his incredible win. He played some unbelievable golf and deserved to win. He’s a great champion and a great ambassador for the game. I’m happy for him and his country,” he added.
“I also want to thank everyone who supported me this week. My family, my friends, my team, my sponsors, my fans. You guys are awesome and I appreciate you so much. You made this week even more special for me,” he continued.
“I learned a lot from this week. I learned what it takes to compete at the highest level, and what I need to improve on. I learned how to handle pressure and expectations, and how to deal with adversity. I learned how to enjoy the challenge and have fun out there,” he concluded.
“I’m looking forward to playing more majors this year. I’m confident that I can do well in them. I’m also looking forward to coming back here next year. I love this place and I want to win here someday. I’ll work hard to make that happen.”
Final Thoughts: Sam Bennett’s Masters Debut Ends with a Promising Future
Sam Bennett may have fallen just two shots short of securing an automatic return to the Masters, but his debut at Augusta National was nothing short of impressive. The Australian golfer made a statement in the opening two rounds, showcasing his talent and composure on the big stage. He demonstrated remarkable consistency, making the cut with ease and finishing in the top 15.
Bennett’s birdie-fest on Thursday and Friday demonstrated his ability to read the greens and make clutch putts. His confidence and poise under pressure were admirable, especially for a debutant. He may have struggled in the weekend rounds, but his overall performance was still remarkable, and he should take pride in what he accomplished.
Bennett’s Masters debut was more than just an opportunity to play at Augusta National; it was a chance to prove himself on a global stage. He did just that, and he has earned the respect and admiration of his peers, the fans, and the golf world.
Furthermore, his experience at the Masters will serve as a valuable learning curve for his career. He learned how to handle the pressure and expectations that come with playing at the highest level. He now knows what it takes to compete with the world’s best, and he has identified areas of his game that need improvement.
Bennett’s performance at the Masters has set a solid foundation for his career. He has gained valuable experience and confidence that he can take into future tournaments. He has also climbed up the world rankings, which will give him more opportunities to compete at the highest level.
In conclusion, Sam Bennett’s Masters debut may have ended two shots short of an automatic return, but his future is bright. He has proven himself as a player to watch out for, and he has gained invaluable experience that will serve him well in his future endeavors.
He is a name to remember in the world of golf, and he will surely be back at Augusta National to chase his dream of winning the Masters someday.