When odds makers released the numbers for this week’s Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open, a couple of Tour stars served as main names. 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 them 30-1.
Martin Trainer did not exactly lead the conversation. In fact, he started the week at 2,000-1, according to the website GolfOdds.
But through two rounds, the Trainer is literally leading. The 30-year-old Tour pro fired back-to-back laps of five under 65 to set the pace at 10 under par. Good news: We have all the Martin Trainer facts you could ever need. Here are 10 of them.
1. His first Korn Ferry Tour victory was outrageous.
The coach got ready to play the 2018 season on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica as he stopped through an open qualifying match for the Korn Ferry Tours El Bosque Mexico Championship on the way. He played well enough to get into a three-for-one playoff. He came out of the playoffs. And then he won the tournament. In other words, the Trainer is used to doing well.
2. His progress for the PGA Tour was particularly unique.
Suddenly, the Trainer had gotten a promotion and had status on the Korn Ferry Tour. But he did not take advantage of it immediately; in the 13 starts after his victory, he had nine missed cuts and only one place in the top 50. But then he won again at the Price Cutter Charity Championship, which guaranteed his promotion to the PGA Tour at the end of the year. On the season, he posted three top-50 rankings, and two were wins.
3. He is also a PGA Tour winner.
Winning from nothing is a theme for the coach. He began the 2018-19 PGA Tour season with a rally to reach the cut at the Safeway Open, causing the birdie on the final five holes to shoot 66. But he only finished the T60 there and then missed four of his next six cuts before he played the 2019 Puerto Rico Open – and won it too.
4. He is chasing PGA Tour status for next season.
Good news for coach: That victory in Puerto Rico locked the status quo for the rest of the season plus another two years. That meant he was good through the 2021 season – but when Covid interrupted that season, the Tour extended the status of winners on the Tour. As a result, the Coach has the rest of this season to lock in status for next year. So far, he has made zero cuts in five starts, putting so much more pressure on a high finish in Houston.
5. He is on an epic trajectory of unanswered cuts.
You can not be golf’s Ricky Bobby – first or foremost – without some ups and downs. We have documented the highs, but it has been pretty much lows lately. Coach made three of his next four cuts after the victory in Puerto Rico. But after that, he only made two cuts in his next 37 starts, and one of those two came at the no-cut Tournament of Champions, where he finished in a 34th place out of 34. Since the beginning of 2020, he has played Sunday in just six events out of 41 starts. That’s where the odds of 2,000-1 come from.
“Yeah, it’s demoralizing when you keep missing out on cuts over and over again,” Trainer said after his second round. “On the Tour, of course, it’s hard to compete yourself and make a cut let alone, you know, get to the top of the rankings.”
6. He swings hard.
Coach has ranked fairly low in most of the PGA Tour ball-match categories, but there is one where he is near the top: swing speed. This season, he is averaging 123.05 mph with his driver, good for fifth place on the Tour. Last year, he was a shadow below 122 mph, good for 11th place on the Tour. His speed has increased from his first year on the Tour when he swung the 118.03, 37th on the Tour. Perhaps the results will follow the force.
7. He is a dual citizen.
Coach was born in Marseille, France, and speaks mostly French with his mother, Isabelle, who is from there. His father, Paul, is from California, was an amazing basketball player at UC-San Diego and ended up playing professional hoops 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 for the Ellie Mae Classic? The second year he had quite an exciting group: Curry, Trainer and Cameron Champ. Curry started hot with a first round 71 before firing 86 on day 2. He did not know at the time that he was playing with professionals who would be PGA Tour winners within the next year.
9. He is a rarity on the PGA Tour.
In many ways, but especially this one: He lives in San Francisco. Tour professionals tend to clump together in hot weather enclaves like Jupiter, Fla., Sea Island, Ga. and Scottsdale, Arizona, but Trainer has settled in the heart of the tech world. He plays from Cal Club, where he has no problem scaring a match up – just maybe not the same caliber of opponent that he could find at Medalist.
10. He is my former employer.
That’s right – Coach hired me for a few starting points on caddiing. And he’s a nice guy! Our first week together came at the 2019 Valspar Championship (which I wrote about here) and the next at the 2020 Memorial Tournament. Both unfortunately ended up with missed cuts, but I learned a lot about the PGA Tour scene. It’s an enviable lifestyle as long as you play as Trainer is this week.