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Sam Bennett, Ben Carr reach finals of US Amateur

Sam Bennett, Ben Carr reach finals of US Amateur

PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) — Texas A&M senior Sam Bennett won his third straight match against a player from the top 10 in the amateur world ranking, this one Saturday getting him into the U.S. Amateur championship match with a 1-up victory over Dylan Menante.

All five of Bennett’s matches at Ridgewood Country Club have been against players at No. 27 or better in the amateur ranking.

Bennett, No. 3 in the world amateur ranking, now faces Georgia Southern senior Ben Carr.

“They say the semifinal match is the toughest one,” Bennett said, “but (the) job is not finished. I want to win it all. It’s going to be a fun day, 36 holes. (Ben’s)) been playing good, too, so it should be a good match.”

Carr, who is No. 70, beat Derek Hitchner 3 and 2.

“It means a lot to be playing for the U.S. Amateur Championship,” Carr said. “There’s not any specific words that come to mind other than I just feel very lucky.”

Bennett never trailed against Menante, who was part of Pepperdine’s team that won the NCAA title in 2021 but decided to transfer to North Carolina for his senior year. But it was tight the whole way in a match delayed at the start by storms.

All square at the turn, Bennett appeared to seize control when he won the 10th hole with a par and the 12th hole with a birdie, giving him a 2-up lead with six to play.

But he made bogey after a poor tee on the 14th, and Menante tied the match with a birdie on the par-3 15th hole, only his second birdie of the match.

Both missed birdie chances from about 15 feet on the 16th.

The match turned on the 17th right when Bennett looked to be on the ropes. He hit his drive on the par 5 into the rough with a tree in front of him, restricting his follow-through. He punched out into a bunker and from 178 yards away, hit it clean to about 12 feet.

Menante missed his birdie putt, and Bennett rolled his in, pumping his fist as he took a 1-up lead to the 18th. Menante was in trouble off the tee and could only punch through trees to the collar of the green. Bennett twirled his club after his shot from the fairway, knowing he hit a winner and smiling as the ball settled 12 feet away.

He needed only two putts to win, and his putt settled inches away.

Carr, who has three wins at Georgia Southern, twice trailed on the front nine. He turned the match in his favor with a par on the 11th to take his first lead, and then back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes for a 3-up lead.

Carr ended the match on the 16th hole.

The finalists get an invitation to play in the Masters and the U.S. Open next year at Los Angeles Country Club, while the winner Sunday also gets into the British Open.

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