Martin Trainer stood in the 18th fairway, tied for the lead with Henrik Norlander, after Norlander carded a final-round 8-under 64 to post 24-under at the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper. The patrons at Highland Springs Country Club gasped as Trainer pulled the 2-iron from his bag. They knew Trainer had knocked it in the water on two of the first three days of competition. With 240 yards in and the tournament on the line, Trainer hit the longest iron in his bag to 40 feet from the hole.
Trainer then two-putted for birdie to win and secure his first PGA TOUR card.
“I hit it in the exact same spot in the fairway all four days,” said Trainer, when asked about the par-5 18th. “It’s a perfect 2-iron yardage except for it’s over water. It’s a really stressful shot. You think about it after the round, and of course I hit it in that exact same spot. I put it in the water the first two days and managed to get it on the green the last day when it counted.”
Trainer arrived in Springfield on the bubble. At No. 24 on the money list, a missed cut was sure to knock him outside the top 25 on the money list. With only three events remaining in the Web.com Tour Regular Season after this week, Trainer was aware of where he stood and what a good week would mean for his future. Trainer not only became the first player to win twice this season on Tour, he grabbed one of the 25 TOUR cards awarded at the conclusion of play on Sunday at next month’s WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft Heinz.
“That’s the whole goal of this Tour obviously,” said Trainer, when asked about playing on the PGA TOUR next season. “I just can’t believe it would come in the fashion. I knew I was right on the bubble coming into this week. Just to have an incredible week, and my only goal was to finish in the top 10. I kept playing well and making putts. To come away with a trophy is incredible.”
It was quite the feat, given the charge Norlander made and the way Trainer faltered in the middle of the round. After recording five birdies in a row, the Marseille, France native dropped shots at 12 and 14 to let everyone, including Norlander, back into the tournament. Trainer admitted after the trophy presentation that he may have started to look ahead, with such a big lead.
“I thought I had this tournament in the bag,” he said. “This is always how it is. When I won in Mexico earlier this year, this was exactly how it was. I thought I had it in the bag and it was way more work than I thought. That just shows you how good these guys are on this Tour.”
Since Trainer turned pro in 2013, he has been trying to enter this event. He successfully qualified last year but missed the cut, and he returned this year as a Web.com Tour winner. From a college kid at the University of Southern California to a now two-time Tour winner, life as a professional golfer has come full circle for Trainer in Springfield, Missouri.
“I’ve been trying to play this tournament for years,” he said. “It’s just amazing to be here. This is the first tournament I ever tried to qualify for when I graduated college. To now be sitting here five years later as the champion is unreal.”