PARAMUS, N.J. – Ben Carr nearly battled back from a 5-hole deficit before falling to Sam Bennett on the 36th hole of the Championship Match in the 122nd U.S. Amateur Sunday at Ridgewood Country Club.
On the 35th hole, Carr walked in a 15-foot birdie putt, while Bennett’s try slid by the hole to send the match to the final hole for just the third time in the last 10 years.
Down 1, Carr’s drive on 18 found the right rough, while Bennett hit the middle of the fairway and put his approach to within 12 feet. Carr’s approach went past the hole through the green and into the back rough, and his chip came out soft and about 3-feet short of his preferred landing spot, leaving him a long par putt. Bennett, the third-ranked amateur in the world, snuggled his birdie putt close to the hole and tapped in for par to win the match.
“He’s a great player and a great guy, and we had a great battle out there,” said Carr. “I mean it was what you dream of as a kid. It didn’t work out the way I wanted, but I couldn’t have lost to a better competitor.”
Carr fell behind by five holes early in the afternoon session but clawed his way back into the match with two great plays off the green on consecutive holes. The first was a long, uphill putt, and the second was an uphill chip-in that cut the margin to three holes.
“I have the utmost respect for Ben Carr,” said Bennett. “I know his family and his Dad are super proud, and like you said, he wouldn’t go away. I got off to a hot start, and then after lunch, he started dropping in putts and chips from everywhere.”
The fifth-year Eagle made a 5-footer for par on the 32nd hole to bring the margin down to two holes with four to play. He had a 12-foot birdie chance on the 33rd to pick up another hole but put a little too much heat on it and then staved off elimination with a 4-footer for par on 34, leaving the margin at two with two holes to play.
Carr is the second Eagle to advance to the US Am finals and the first since Buddy Alexander won the tournament in 1986. Over 7,700 players attempted to qualify for the 312 spots in the championship field, and Carr advanced through the qualifying process and tied for 30th in two rounds of stroke play to earn a spot in match play. Provided he maintains his amateur status, he earns an exemption to the 2023 U.S. Open and a likely invitation to the 2023 Masters.
“It’ll give me a ton of confidence,” said Carr. “I played very well this week, and I’m just really excited for this fall season back at Georgia Southern and ready to see some friends and family.”
“I couldn’t be prouder of Ben,” said Georgia Southern coach Carter Collins. “The world is continuing to find out how great of a golfer he is, and through his humility and sportsmanship – they are also learning how special of a person he is. He accomplished so much this week and earned the respect of a nation. We are proud to have him as an Eagle – what a week for Ben and his family.”