Puerto Rico Open

Puerto Rico Open

Puerto Rico Open
Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
Winner: Martin Trainer

Perhaps Martin Trainer didn’t dare to dream so big, or maybe he favored lower expectations. In any event, fate found Trainer one Sunday evening in February in the Puerto Rico Open saying: “It’s incredible. I never thought that I would be able to win on the PGA Tour. That’s just incredible.”

And thus did Trainer’s doubts end. Trainer, 27, a two-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour, making just his 11th start on the PGA Tour, trailed through the first three rounds, came from behind in the fourth and closed with a rush to take his first tour victory by three shots.

The hardest point for Trainer? “I think just teeing off on the first hole,” he said.

Trainer staked his claim in the final round with birdies at the second, fourth and fifth. Then he took two quick bogeys — off a bunkered tee shot at the par-three sixth and catching rough and sand at the par-four seventh. Was his old game rearing its ugly head in this tournament played opposite the WGC – Mexico Championship?

Not quite. After carding 70-67-69 in the first three rounds, Trainer shot the last 10 holes in four under, with birdies at Nos. 9, 10, 15 and 18, blowing past the field for a 67 and a three-stroke win. His 15-under 273 left Daniel Berger (66), Roger Sloan (67), Johnson Wagner (69) and Aaron Baddeley (72) three back at 276.

But before Trainer took over in the fourth round, the tournament was completely up for grabs. Andres Romero handled Coco Beach’s winds nicely for the first-round lead at six-under 66 for a one-stroke edge. Romero said he liked playing in the wind. “But of course,” he said, “it is very difficult for everyone.” D.J. Trahan, 38, who won twice on the PGA Tour, shot 67, and Nate Lashley, 36, a 68, to tie for the halfway lead at eight under. Said Trahan, trying to return from a back injury: “It’s time to man-up and think and act positively.” And said Lashley, of his two Korn Ferry Tour wins: “That experience always helps, but this is a lot bigger deal.” Baddeley took a one-shot lead with a 66 in the third round. “It was pretty low stress today,” said Baddeley, 37, who last won in 2016.

That opening tee shot was Trainer’s nervous moment. Then there were several key moments in the final round.

  • He birdied the 15th. “And so,” he said, “I just assumed I’m probably either tied for the lead or up one.”
  • At the 16th, he saw he was leading by two. “I just wanted to lag every single putt, hit the fairways, hit the green in regulation,” he said.
  • At the 17th, he didn’t drive into the water. “I actually hit the fairway,” he said, and was leading by two. “I thought, okay, my chances are pretty good.”
  • And at the 18th: “I still couldn’t believe that I was leading and I was going to win. I was just thinking somehow maybe I’m not going to win. I just kept going and kept hitting, and that’s all you can do.”


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