November 12, 2021
When the odds makers released the numbers for the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open this week, some tour stars served as headliners. Sam Burns led 16-1. Scottie Scheffler was 18-1. Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im were 20-1. Tony Finau was 25-1, and Brooks Koepka and Matthew Wolff were among those 30-1.
Martin Trainer didn’t exactly lead the conversation. In fact, he started the week at 2,000-1, according to the GolfOdds website.
But in two rounds, coach literally leads the way. The 30-year-old touring pro fired consecutive rounds of five under 65 to bring the pace to 10 under par. Good news: we have all the facts you could need about Martin Trainer. Here are 10 of them.
1. His first Korn Ferry Tour win was outrageous.
Coach was preparing for the 2018 PGA Tour Latinoamerica season when he broke an open qualifier for the Korn Ferry Tour’s El Bosque Mexico Championship en route. He played well enough to get into a three-on-one playoff. He emerged from the playoff. And then he won the tournament. In other words, coaches are used to facing the situation.
2. His rise to the PGA Tour was particularly unique.
Suddenly Trainer had earned a promotion and had status on the Korn Ferry Tour. But he didn’t use it right away; In the 13 starts after his win, he had nine missed cuts and only one finish in the top 50. But then he won again at the Price Cutter Charity Championship, which secured his promotion to the PGA Tour at the end of the year. During the season he scored three top 50 finishes and two were wins.
3. He is also a PGA Tour winner.
Winning out of nothing is an issue for coaches. He started the 2018-19 PGA Tour season with a rally to make the cut at the Safeway Open by birdieing the final five holes to score 66. But he only finished T60 there and then missed four of his next six cuts before playing the 2019 Puerto Rico Open – and winning that too.
4. He’s chasing PGA Tour status for the next season.
Good news for coaches: That Puerto Rico win secured status for the remainder of the season plus two more years. That meant he had weathered the 2021 season well – but when Covid interrupted that season, the tour extended status to winners on the tour. As a result, Coach has the remainder of this season to secure status for the next year. So far he has made zero compromises in five starts, which puts a lot of pressure on a high goal in Houston.
5. He’s on an epic series of missed cuts.
You can’t be the ricky bobby of golf – first or last – without some ups and downs. We’ve been documenting the highs, but lately it’s mostly been the lows. Coach made three of his next four cuts after winning in Puerto Rico. But after that, he made only two cuts on his next 37 starts, one of which came in the Champions No-Cut Tournament, where he finished 34 out of 34. Since the beginning of 2020, he has been playing in only six events from 41 starts on Sunday. That’s where the 2,000-1 odds come from.
“Yes, it’s demoralizing when you keep missing cuts,” said coach after his second round. “On the tour it is of course difficult to even compete and make a cut, let alone get to the top of the leaderboard.”
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6. It swings hard.
Trainer has ranked fairly low in most of the PGA Tour’s ball-punching categories, but he’s near the top in one: swing speed. This season he and his rider are doing an average of 123.05 mph, good for fifth on the tour. Last year it was a nuance under 122 mph, good for 11th place on the tour. His speed has increased from his first year on the Tour when he swung it to 118.03, 37th on the Tour. Perhaps the results will follow power.
7. He is a dual citizen.
Trainer was born in Marseille, France and speaks mostly French with his mother Isabelle, who is from there. His father, Paul, is from California, was a great basketball player at UC-San Diego and ended up playing professional hoop in France, where he then settled for more than two decades.
8. He played with Steph Curry on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Do you remember when Steph Curry played in the Ellie Mae Classic? By the sophomore year he had a pretty interesting group: Curry, Trainer, and Cameron Champ. Curry started with a 71 on the first round before firing 86 on Day 2. Little did he know at the time that he was playing with pros who would be PGA Tour winners for the next year.
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9. He’s a rarity on the PGA Tour.
In many ways, but mostly this: He lives in San Francisco. Tour pros tend to settle in warm weather enclaves like Jupiter, Florida, Sea Island, Georgia, and Scottsdale, Arizona, but Coach has settled in the heart of the tech world. He plays at the Cal Club, where he has no problem chasing a game away – just maybe not the same caliber of opponent as he might find at Medalist.
10. He is my former employer.
That’s right – Trainer hired me for a couple of starts in caddying. And he’s an adorable guy! Our first week together took place at the Valspar Championship 2019 (which I wrote about here) and the next at the 2020 Memorial Tournament. Both unfortunately ended in missed cuts, but I learned a lot about the PGA Tour scene. It’s an enviable lifestyle as long as you play like Coach this week.
Dylan Dethier is Senior Writer for GOLF Magazine / GOLF.com. A native of Williamstown, Mass. joined GOLF in 2017 after fiddling around on the mini tours for two years. A graduate of Williams College in 2014 where he majored in English, Dethier is the author of 18 in America describing the year he lived off his car when he was 18 and in each state played a round of golf.