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‘Kind of mind-blowing’: Bend teen golfer scoring big at prestigious boarding school

(Update: Adding video, comments by teen)

Cort Benner, 17, has had three first-place finishes in his last four tournaments

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- After his junior season of golf at Summit High School was cut short because of the pandemic, Cort Benner saw his dream of playing college golf slipping away. Then, in mid-July, he was presented with the chance of a lifetime -- an opportunity that Benner said was meant to be.

Coaches at the highly-respected Combine Academy in Lincolnton, North Carolina, reached out to see if he was interested in playing golf at their college-prep boarding school. Benner had never spoken to them before in his life.

Within four weeks of that first conversation, Benner was on campus --- and ready to go to work.

"Getting the opportunity to come here was kind of mind-blowing," Benner told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday.

Benner said his high school career got off to a slower start than he had hoped when he was living in Bend.

Benner's new home, however, has allowed him to work on his game more than ever before.

Rather than playing golf only in the spring, as he would have if done had he stayed in Bend, there are tournaments year-round at his new private school.

Since his arrival, all Benner has done is play in eight events, with two third-place, three second-place and three first-place finishes.

The one time he did not finish in the top three was this past weekend, when he finished a respectable fourth out of 84 competitors at the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour National Championships.

Benner also participated in a long-drive competition the day before that tournament. Benner said it ended in a way that you would only see in the movies.

"A good song that I know came on, I was like, 'Oh yeah, I got this,'" Benner recalled "It was 'Pure Water' by Migos. I adjust my shirt, get ready -- and I just hit it as hard as I could."

Benner was the last one to hit, and was down to his last ball, needing a drive of more than 328 yards to win.

"(The announcer) looks down at it, it says 329.8, and he jumps up in the air and goes, 'Oh my God! He did it!" Benner exclaimed. "It was definitely kind of something out of a movie."

Watching live from back home in southeast Bend, Benner's family couldn't believe what they had witnessed.

Tralain Benner, Cort's mother, said, "We both had it on our phones -- one of us was just ahead of the other, but we erupted."

Benner's first-place finish earned him a WWE-style belt, with gems all over it -- another award to add to his remarkable 2020 resume.

This seems like just the beginning for Benner.

Article Topic Follows: Sports

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Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.


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