Sam Bennett looked as if he was going to cruise into the finals of the 122nd U.S. Amateur.
The 22-year-old fifth-year senior from Texas A&M was 2 up with five to play in his semifinal match against Dylan Menante at The Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey. Yet on the 17th tee, the match was tied. Menante, a senior at North Carolina, sat in the middle of the fairway while Bennett watched his drive leak right into the trees.
Bennett’s ball came to rest nearly against the trunk of a huge tree. He and his caddie spoke at length about his options, and he opted to hit a high draw that somehow avoided further tree trouble and settled in a fairway bunker. Menante’s 3 wood second shot settled just short of the green.
However, Bennett didn’t let being behind the 8-ball bug him. He flushed his shot out of the bunker and was inside Menante once both players were on the green, and he sank the birdie putt, which ended up being the difference in a 1 up victory to advance to the U.S. Amateur finals on Sunday.
Bennett will face off against Ben Carr, a fifth-year senior at Georgia Southern, in the 36-hole final on Sunday. Carr topped Derek Hitchner, 3 and 2, catching fire on the back nine to advance to the championship match.
Both Bennett and Carr secured spots in the 2023 Masters and 2023 U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club by advancing to the final.
— USGA (@USGA) August 20, 2022
Menante, No. 8 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, didn’t challenge Bennett on the final hole. Menante’s tee shot was right and his second shot short of the green in the rough. Bennett, meanwhile, found the fairway and hit a 7-iron to about 15 feet for birdie, giving a vicious club twirl after hitting the shot.
For Bennett, he continues his stellar run. None of his opponents have been ranked lower than No. 27 in the WAGR.
Carr, 22, from Columbus, Georgia, capitalized on a strong back nine. He won three holes in a four-hole stretch, including birdies on the par-5 13th and par-4 14th, to go 3 up. He narrowly missed a short birdie putt on the par-3 15th to clinch victory, but he ended up winning with a par on the next hole.
No. 70 in the WAGR, Carr is looking to become the first current or former Georgia Southern player to win the U.S. Amateur since alum Stewart “Buddy” Alexander captured the 1986 title at Shoal Creek.
There was also an emotional moment for Carr in his post-round interview. He uses a special ball marker to commemorate his father, who died in 2019. But, it went missing.
“On the first tee, I couldn’t find it,” Carr told Smiley Kaufman, who’s working as a reporter for Golf Channel, after the match. “I emptied out my pockets, there was nothing. I emptied out my bag. I couldn’t find it in my bag.”
But then he found it right before clinching his match.
“I’m over my putt on 16, and it’s just in my left pocket,” Carr said. “I don’t know how. I sweat to God, I checked. I check my pocket, I swear to God.”
— USGA (@USGA) August 20, 2022
U.S. Amateur: Scoring | Photo gallery
U.S. Amateur semifinal results
- No. 36 Sam Bennett (Madisonville, Texas) def. No. 16 Dylan Menante (Carlsbad, California), 1 up
- No. 34 Ben Carr (Columbus, Georgia) def. No. 59 Derek Hitchner (Minneapolis), 3 and 2
U.S. Amateur final schedule
- No. 36 Sam Bennett vs. No. 34 Ben Carr, Sunday, 8 a.m.
How to watch
Sunday, August 21
36-hole championship match, Golf Channel: 2–5 p.m. ET
tags #U.S #Amateur #semifinal #results #Ridgewood