U.S. Amateur Champion Sam Bennett Leads Low Am, Contending

U.S. Amateur champion Sam Bennett was the only amateur to break par Thursday, shooting a bogey-free round of 68 to match playing partner and defending Masters champion Scottie Scheffler.

Bennett was just two strokes off Ken Venturi’s record for low round by an amateur, set in 1956. Venturi would take the lead into Sunday, when he shot 80 and finished one shot behind Jack Burke Jr.

Bennett, a two-time All-American at Texas A&M, made a long birdie putt at the first hole. He added a chip-in for eagle at the second, then another long birdie putt at the sixth. He made par the rest of the way to the clubhouse.

“It was kind of gloomy all day,” Bennett said, “and then on 17 ,it was probably the prettiest view looking up that fairway, and 18 as well through the chute. The sun was shining. So I just wanted to make two more good swings, which I did.”

Harrison Crowe and Ben Carr, who lost to Bennett at the U.S. Amateur, opened with 75. Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira shot 76 and fellow amateurs Matthew McClean, Aldrich Potgieter and Gordon Sargent had rounds of 5 over.

“Kicked my butt out there,” said Sargent, the NCAA champion from Vanderbilt. “But I talked to my caddie at every single hole. We’re at Augusta at the Masters, how can you complain?”