There were times when the fight almost got the better of him.
After years of pushing this proverbial boulder to the top, Marty Sanchez de Santa Fe – a self-proclaimed golf enthusiast named after an uncle whose name appears on the city’s municipal golf course – won his first tournament as a as a professional player. He won a total of three under-17 days to win the Las Vegas Open Championship, a tournament held July 28-30 at TPC Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Its remarkably consistent play produced only two bogeys in 54 holes. He pulled off a lopsided seven-stroke victory, dominating the pitch with an aggressive approach to the start and, as usual, his steady hand on the greens.
For his efforts, he received a check for $ 10,000 and a trophy.
He dropped the trophy almost as soon as he got it, smashing the handle of a black ceramic and chrome vase.
âIt was such a Marty thing to happen,â Sanchez said with a laugh. âBut you know, they could’ve given me $ 500 and I wouldn’t even have noticed. Money in golf can be great, but it’s about competing for me. I have always had an addiction to this game, and now I have a tournament win and some confidence.
Sanchez, 27, graduated from St. Michael’s in 2012 and sort of a local icon on Links. He won the city tournament as well as a handful of high school and college events, like the 2010 state title with the Horsemen before an All-American race at New Mexico Junior College.
He has played professionally on the PGA Lower Tours since his college career ended at West Texas A&M, but it was his first victory. The Vegas Open is part of the Southwestern section of the PGA, which hosts a number of tournaments in this part of the country.
Sanchez’s next stop will be the San Juan Open on Labor Day weekend in Farmington.
âThe last week since this tournament has been pretty crazy,â said Sanchez. âThe outpouring of support I have received from people who have followed my career has been incredible. All texts and calls have been, wow.
For most of the past decade, Sanchez has turned to Arizona, finding ways to stay involved in the sport. He played in a tournament here, was a caddy or gave a few lessons there.
Zach Berhost, a former St. Michael’s teammate who lives in Phoenix, gave him the biggest break of all by introducing him to Kelly Spielman, a former college tennis player who had attended Arizona State.
The couple immediately hit it off and got engaged last fall. The wedding is slated for spring in the Phoenix area.
âI am lucky to have a fiancÃ© who supports my love for golf,â Sanchez said. “She understands it.”
All has not been good for Sanchez. He had an appendectomy 20 months ago and has hardly played during the pandemic. He spent much of his time commuting between Santa Fe and Arizona, shopping cart in the Phoenix area to earn a few bucks. He was on the sack for CEOs and celebrities, even spending a round with Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Albert Pujols.
âIt was the best way to make money fast,â Sanchez said. âBut not playing was difficult. If anything, it was a change in my outlook on the game. Time away from competition has taught me that I will never take golf for granted.
Sanchez admits there were times he thought the day would come when he would have to find a 9-5 job and become a scratch golfer on the weekends. Every time he did, he said, he was drawn to the sport that defined his family.
When he entered the Las Vegas Open, Sanchez was hoping to play well, but 17 down?
âI knew I was playing well, but I didn’t expect to win by seven strokes, not at all,â said Sanchez. âI mean, golfers – we’ve all had cases where we said we were going to quit, where we said we had had enough. I certainly did. I’m just glad I didn’t go all the way. I’ll never be done with this.