Anyone who watched the Houston Open this past weekend saw or heard the stats, comments, or both. Maybe they browsed through it — there was a lot on Twitter — and it all came down to this: Martin Trainer has been battling to find solid form for a long time.
For the record, it’s all true. Fans of Trainer, on the other hand, thought it was a little excessive when put all together. You can add me to that list of supporters. At the 2019 3M Open, I caddied for him. Yes, there was a snafu.
All of those missed cuts were simply totaled up for the viewer this weekend. Since April, no cuts have been made. In the 70 races since his triumph in 2019, he has never finished in the top 25. A career total of -351 strokes gained is a huge accomplishment. Or, to put it another way, 351 strokes were lost to the field average. While Trainer was well aware of all of this, some of his most ardent followers were not, and they reached out to him throughout the weekend while he held the 36-hole lead and was only one back going into the final round.
Trainer told us on this week’s Drop Zone Podcast, “I had a couple folks write me saying — they didn’t even mention what people were saying about how I had missed a million cuts or something.” “However, they were enraged that they were simply denigrating my golfing name.”
Disparaging is a strong word, but even the most ardent Trainer supporters couldn’t back it up. Except for his back-to-back 65s to start the tournament. Even Vegas didn’t believe in him, as his odds grew longer every time someone else made a birdie. On Saturday night, he was even questioned, “Was there ever a time when you considered not playing?” by a member of the media.
To be honest, I was scared that all of this discourse about his failings would lead to another great failure, this time on a much larger stage. When people keep telling you, “Hey, we haven’t seen this from you in a long time,” it’s tough to think of anything else but “Yeah, I haven’t done this in a long time.” But with Trainer, it couldn’t have made a difference.
“From my perspective, none of that matters,” Trainer stated. “This year I have prestige, and I’ve won on Tour previously.” So my main goal is to go back to a stage where I can play well and possibly compete.
“This week was a best-case scenario, and I played exceptionally well, and I was able to get a spot.” For me, that’s a great victory. Just to be there, to have a Top 5 and to be in contention.”
With your eyes on the prize, you’ll be able to reduce the noise to a minimum. Trainer’s worst round of the week occurred on Saturday, when he shot a 74 and lost his lead. But it’s not like he’d been eliminated from contention with only one stroke between him and the lead. Then, with only six shots to go on Sunday, he found himself in the lead. Those hundreds of strokes lost to the field couldn’t possibly have made a difference, so they didn’t. In the end, Jason Kokrak transformed into a human buzzsaw, birdieing four consecutive holes on his back nine to win the tournament. Trainer would have no choice but to accept his T5 placement.
The payoff was his largest cheque in a long time, along with enough FedEx Cup points to call the fall season a success and a dinner reservation with butter cake on the way. In the interview below, Trainer talks about his entire week.
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