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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Sam Bennett claims first collegiate win, exemption to 2021 Valero Texas Open

Sam+Bennett
via 12thman.com
Sam Bennett

Junior Sam Bennett claimed his first career collegiate victory, leading the way for Texas A&M men’s golf to finish third in a stacked Cabo Collegiate.
With a battle brewing in the final pairing, Bennett went into the final three holes tied with Oklahoma’s Garett Reband. The title clincher for Bennett would be a birdie on the par-4 17th, putting him 5-under for the day and tournament.
“In this sport you don’t get many chances,” Bennett told 12thman.com. “It feels good to win.”
With the win, Bennett will be granted an exemption to play in the 2021 Valero Texas Open March 29-April 4. It will be played at TPC San Antonio, the same course used for the Cabo Collegiate.
“Unfortunately, last week in Laredo I had a pretty good chance [to win], and didn’t get the job done,” Bennett told 12thman.com. “I learned a lot from what I did wrong, and it feels good to come out on top.”
Playing in the 2021 Valero Texas Open is a dream come true for the Madisonville native, and a reflection of his hard work paying off.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I was hoping to play in a PGA Tour event,” Bennett told 12thman.com.
A&M coach Brian Kortan said playing in the Valero Texas Open would be a great experience for both Bennett and his family.
“He’s earned it,” Kortan told 12thman.com. “It’s great to see that kind of success in your program, and I’m proud of him.”
Bennett’s victory at the Cabo Collegiate is impressive. Ranked 82nd in the nation, Bennett beat 15 other players that are ranked in the top 100 by Golfstat. On top of that, it comes a week after he lost the lead at the Border Olympics, where senior Dan Erickson ended up winning.
Bennett was in the driver’s seat with the lead at 8-under with eight holes remaining. Then came a bogey, followed by back-to-back double bogeys, and then two bogeys to finish the final round, dropping him to 1-under for the tournament and tied for fifth at the finish.
As a team, the Aggies came up just a tad short of winning their second straight tournament, despite beating seven other ranked teams in a loaded Cabo Collegiate field, with some of those top teams being No. 3 Arizona State, No. 10 Texas, No. 11 Arizona and No. 12 Arkansas.
The team ended the first day in second place down 10 strokes to top-ranked Oklahoma. They would fall into third place before cutting the deficit to four strokes going into the final round.
Down one stroke to No. 15 Florida State and four strokes to No. 1 Oklahoma, the Aggies came out firing. Three Aggies would shoot under par to help them shoot 11-under as a team, putting them at 1-under for the tournament. Even with the great scores, the comeback would fall a tad short. Oklahoma went on to win at 4-under, shooting 10-under the final day and FSU finishing second at 3-under as they shot 12-under in the final round.
Erickson, who was named SEC Player of the Week and Golfweek College Player of the Week after his win at the Border Olympics, followed up his win with a top-5 finish. Shooting a final round 5-under, Erickson finished tied for fifth at 2-under par. Walker Lee finished tied for 26th at 4-over; Daniel Rodrigues tied for 29th at 5-over; and William Paysee tied for 31st at 6-over.
The Aggies will be back in action March 15-17 in Opelika, Ala., for the Tiger Invitational.

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