Sam Bennett’s warm welcome home, Gordon Sargent dominates and Rose Zhang returns to action among highlights from past week of college golf

The college golf regular season is close to its conclusion.

Many women’s college golf teams are beginning their conference tournaments this week, and next week is when the men will try to claim conference titles. It’s the final chance for teams to make a push into the postseason.

Every day, the picture is coming more into focus on which teams are fighting for a title and others who are looking to be a dark-horse contender.

From Sam Bennett’s return home from Augusta to Rose Zhang’s first competition since winning the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, here are some of the best storylines in college golf from the past week.

Sam Bennett's surprise party at the airport

It’s safe to say Sam Bennett made himself even more known last week at the Masters.

The fifth-year senior at Texas A&M won the 2022 U.S. Amateur last summer, which earned him a spot in the field at Augusta National. By Saturday’s start of the third round, he was in the final grouping, playing alongside eventual winner Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka.

Bennett was the only amateur to make the cut and finished at 2 under, earning the Silver Cup. After his round, he said he planned on playing Monday in his college tournament, but he ended up sitting it out. And how could you blame him?

Nevertheless, Bennett returned to College Station, Texas, late Sunday night, and it was a great reception.

The Southeastern Conference named Bennett its men’s golfer of the week for his performance in the Masters. Although he didn’t play in the Aggie Invitational, he was there supporting his teammates.

Gordon Sargent bounces back, Vanderbilt wins again

For as good of a week as Bennett had, Sargent likely walked away from the Masters upset.

The top-ranked amateur in the world got into the field on a special exemption, the first since 2000, but he ended up shooting 77-76 and missing the cut. He finished last of the seven amateurs in the field.

However, it didn’t take long for Sargent to get back on the course, and did he take advantage.

At the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tennessee, Sargent ran away with the title at the Mason Rudolph Championship, shooting 66-64-66 to win by eight shots. In nine collegiate starts this season, Sargent has three wins, seven top fives and nine top 10s. His stroke average is 67.7 in 25 rounds.

As a team, top-ranked Vanderbilt won for the sixth time this season and fourth time in the spring. The Commodores shot 34 under and beat second-place Tennessee by 23 shots.

With the SEC Championships up next, it’s safe to say Sargent and Vanderbilt are in position to make a run at another individual title and a team title at Grayhawk Golf Club.

Rose Zhang returns to action

On the women’s side, top-ranked Rose Zhang added another feather in her cap of an incredible amateur career with her win at the ANWA. She hung around Augusta National for a couple days to celebrate her victory, but this week was back representing Stanford and looking to continue her form.

At the Silicon Valley Showcase, Zhang tallied a fifth-place finish at 4 over, three shots behind winner Lion Higo of Pepperdine. Zhang’s Stanford teammates, Kelly Xu and Sadie Englemann, tied for second at 2 over.

The Cardinal split medalist honors with Pepperdine at 17 over.

On the season, Zhang has won five of her seven starts and had a T-12 in addition to her solo fifth. Stanford is the defending national champion, and Zhang won the individual title as a freshman.

Illinois goes low in Missouri

Not many college golf teams have had better 54-hole scores than Illinois did at the Tiger Collegiate.

The Illini shot an astounding 68 under, 28 shots clear of host Missouri, to win. And that’s one of the best rounds in college golf history.

The lowest 5-count-4 score in men’s college golf was in 2007, when Colorado State shot 77 under over 54 holes. Earlier this season, at a 6-count-5 event, Vanderbilt shot 69 under. Then there’s Illinois’ 68 under, the third highest score ever.

The mark was a program record, and the Illini had three finishers in the top five. Jackson Buchanan won his first college title shooting 22 under. Adrien Dumont de Chassart tied for second at 18 under, and Piercen Hunt shot 14 under.

Golfweek/Sagarin rankings update

Golfweek/Sagarin rankings

Men’s team

Men’s individual

Women’s team

Women’s individual

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek