Unsung Trainer leads weather-hit Houston Open

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American Martin Trainer putts on the second hole on the way to the clubhouse lead in the second round of the US PGA Tour Houston Open (AFP/Carmen Mandato)
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American Martin Trainer, who hadn't made a US PGA Tour cut since July, was atop the leaderboard heading into the weekend on Friday at the weather-hit Houston Open.

Trainer had five birdies in his second straight five-under par-65 at Memorial Park, where a first-round weather delay on Thursday still had the event in catch-up mode.

Darkness halted play with dozens of players still on the course, but Trainer was in the clubhouse on 10-under par 130, one stroke in front of Kevin Tway -- who had two eagles in a six-under par 64 for 131.

It's a more than welcome position for the player whose lone PGA Tour title, at the 2019 Puerto Rico Open, has been followed by a prolonged slump.

Trainer has made just nine cuts since then, and had reached the weekend just once in seven months until this week.

"It is demoralizing when you keep missing cuts over and over again," he said. "On tour, obviously, it's tough to even compete and make a cut let alone, you know, get to the top of the leaderboard.

"It's been tough at times for me the last couple years not playing well, but now that I figured out a little bit of ball-striking, dropped some putts, it really can turn around that quickly.

"So I'm just grateful that that's happening to me this week and hopefully I'll keep it going."

Trainer said he'd come into the week buoyed by a solid ball-striking performance at the Mayakoba Classic last week, where his putting let him down.

"To finally be able to put it together, it's not easy, but you have to hope that this is the week."

Trainer's birdies included a 25-foot putt at the 15th and a 34-footer at 17, along with putts of two, three and four feet.

Tway, the son of 1986 PGA Champion Bob Tway, has endured struggles of his own, with only three top-10 finishes since his only title at the 2018 Safeway Open.

He chipped in for eagle at the par-five third hole and holed his approach from 107 yards out for an eagle at the par-four 13th.

"You're never going to complain about a 64 with a couple hole‑outs," Tway said. "I played very well, putted well.

"I'm a little tired now, but all in all a good day," added Tway, who played 27 holes on Friday.

American Jason Kokrak was in third position, at eight-under through 11 holes, when play was suspended, while Adam Long was in the clubhouse on seven-under.

Trainer, who was born in Marseille and still visits family in France regularly, admitted that there have been times in the past 18 months that he has "pondered my future in the game.

"It's nice to have one of these validating performances where all that work actually is paying off," Trainer said.

And if there are some hiccups, his bilingualism can come in handy, and he can vent his frustration in French.

"French yields less fines," he said.

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