USC sophomore Martin Trainer won the Pac-10 individual title earlier this month on a seven-hole playoff. Now he hopes to keep that momentum going at NCAA regionals in San Diego this weekend.
First he had to make a standard five-foot putt on the 18th hole to force a playoff, both for himself and his team.
Then he had to do the same thing eight more times.
Faced with the possibility of a team and individual one-shot loss in the Pac-10 championships in Palo Alto earlier this month, USC golfer Martin Trainer instead converted the crucial five-footer, finishing at five-under 275 for the four-day tourney and forcing a seven-hole playoff with Oregon State's Alex Moore for the right to be the conference's individual title-holder.
He then shot par on six straight attempts on the 18th hole, keeping things tied up with Moore until Moore teed off into the weeds and bogeyed the seventh hole. Trainer, a Palo Alto native, shot par again and secured the individual title. He then went back to hole 18 and converted par one more time to help the Trojans to a conference title as they outlasted upstart Oregon in the team playoff segment.
All in all, it was certainly an eventful day for Trainer, a sophomore. It was his first collegiate tournament victory, it came on his home turf, and it earned him a PGA Tour exemption for an event in Lake Tahoe this summer.
"It’s always special when you win as a team, and winning as an individual is like the cherry on top," Trainer said in a phone interview last week. "I’m glad it turned out the way it did -- it could have turned out a lot worse."
It took nearly two hours for the sophomores to complete the playoff.
"I just kept doing it over and over again," Trainer said of the final hole, a par 4. "After the third and fourth hole I couldn’t even keep track of what playoff hole we were on."
After his individual role was done, USC quickly took to the course to face Oregon in the team playoff. Each of the Trojans' golfers participated, and there were a lot less theatrics. They quickly took the title after beating the Ducks on the first four holes of the playoff.
Now, beginning Thursday, USC takes its third-seeded team to the NCAA San Diego regionals at The Farmers Golf Course in Rancho Sante Fe, Calif. Trainer and teammates T.J. Vogel and Steve Lim hope to build off the Pac-10 title. Eighty-five schools are playing across the country this weekend, but the Trojans will go against local rivals UCLA -- seeded No. 1 -- and San Diego in their regional. The top five teams from each region will advance to the NCAA championships later this month on the campus of Oklahoma State.