This pro blocked out ‘disparaging’ TV commentary — and nearly won
Anyone who tuned in for the Houston Open this past weekend definitely saw the stats, heard the commentary, or both. Maybe they even scrolled through it — there was plenty on Twitter, and all of it amounted to this: Martin Trainer has been struggling for a long time to find good form.
All of it is true, for the record. But taken all together, fans of Trainer thought it was a bit much. You can count me in on that group of fans. I caddied for him at the 2019 3M Open. Yes, a missed cut.
This weekend, all those missed cuts were added up conveniently for the viewer. No cuts made since April. Zero top 25 finishes in the 70 starts since his 2019 victory. A whopping career total of -351 strokes gained. Or rather, 351 strokes lost to the field average. While Trainer knew all this quite well, some of his biggest supporters didn’t quite have it memorized, and they reached out to him throughout the weekend as he held the 36-hole lead and was just one back entering the final round.
“I had a few people text me saying — they didn’t even say what people were saying about how I had missed a million cuts or whatever,” Trainer told us on this week’s Drop Zone Podcast. “But they just seemed aggrieved that they were just disparaging my golfing name.”
Disparaging is a harsh term, but even the biggest Trainer fans had nothing to back it up. Nothing besides his back-to-back 65s to open the tournament. Vegas didn’t believe in him either, with his odds lengthening every time anyone else made a birdie. On Saturday night he was even asked by one media member: “Was there ever a time when you considered not playing?”
Frankly, I was pretty worried that all this talk about his failures would beget another big failure, only now on a much bigger platform. When people remind you constantly “Hey, we haven’t seen this from you in awhile,” it’s difficult to think about anything else but “Yeah, I haven’t done this in awhile.” But somehow, with Trainer, that couldn’t have mattered at all.
“From my standpoint, that stuff doesn’t matter at all,” Trainer said. “I have status this year and I’ve won on Tour before. So my only goal is to get back to a point where I’m playing well and potentially contending.
“This week was a best-case scenario and I played really well and I ended up having a chance. That’s a huge win for me. Just to be up there, have a Top 5 and contend.”
Eyes on the prize can keep the noise to a minimum, that’s for sure. Trainer’s worst round of the week came on Saturday with a grinding 74 that surrendered his lead. But with just one shot between him and the lead, it’s not like he had been bounced from contention. Then on Sunday he found himself in the lead with just six shots to go. Those hundreds of strokes lost to the field couldn’t matter, so they didn’t matter. In the end, Jason Kokrak became a human buzzsaw and birdied four straight on his back nine to take the title. Trainer would have to accept his T5 finish.
The payoff was his biggest check in a long, long time, enough FedEx Cup points to call it a successful fall season and a dinner reservation with butter cake on the way. Trainer talked to us about his entire week in the interview below.