Qualifying stunner
July 21, 2020

Caddie's scorching qualifier takes him from looping to playing in 3M Open

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PGA TOUR

Aaron Crawford

It was Monday afternoon and Martin Trainer wanted to go play nine holes at TPC Twin Cities in preparation for this week’s 3M Open. The only problem: He hadn’t heard from his caddie, Aaron Crawford.

“I was expecting him to text around 2 p.m.,” Trainer said.

More time passed. Nothing.

About an hour later, the phone rang. It was Crawford, and he told his boss he'd have to find someone else to carry his bag this week.

Trainer was bummed but also elated. Crawford had just shot 63 at nearby Victory Links to Monday qualify for the 3M. Trainer, a 29-year-old, one-time PGA Tour winner, would have to find a replacement looper for the bag.

“When I didn’t get a response at first I thought I better see what’s going on, so I went online thinking the round had taken a while, and when I checked scoring I saw that he was eight under,” Trainer said. “I thought uh oh I might need a new caddie. I texted him and told him great round.”

Indeed. At one point, Crawford ripped off six birdies in a seven-hole stretch in the middle of his round.

It was a big one, too.

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Though it isn’t the first time a caddie will play in the same tournament as his boss—it happened at the 2009 Valero Texas Open with Lance Ten Broeck and Jesper Parnevik—this week’s 3M will be the 25-year-old Canadian’s first start on the PGA Tour after turning pro out of high school in 2012 and toiling the last handful of years on mini tours and the PGA Tour’s north-of-the-border circuit, the Mackenzie Tour.

Only recently had Crawford started caddying, working a couple of tournaments last year and a handful more this year for Trainer, with whom he struck up a friendship during Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school in Palm Springs.

“It’s a process,” Crawford said of the ups and downs of the pursuit of reaching the PGA Tour. “At heart, though, I’m a player.”

Trainer thinks so, too.

Though he lost his caddie for the week—he’ll have Sean Zak of Golf.com on the bag instead—Trainer was more than happy for Crawford’s breakthrough, not just because of their friendship but because he knows better than most how fine the line is between success and the abyss. In his 35 starts since his lone victory in Puerto Rico last year, Trainer has missed the cut an astounding 29 times.

Still, he feels good about the direction his game is headed, in part because of the work he’s done with his coach Terry Rowles and the second set of eyes that Crawford has provided. He likes what he sees out of Crawford, too.

“I think he has a great chance of playing well,” Trainer said. “He’s clearly playing well right now and he’s one of best putters I’ve seen. He has game to compete on tour.”

Though Crawford won’t be on the bag he and Trainer also won’t be far from each other this week. The two are sharing a hotel room and will be pulling for one another.

And what if Trainer loses his caddie for good?

“He’s clearly overqualified,” Trainer said. “I would be happier for him to go on and have a great career than I would be to have him on my bag.”

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