This has been a breakthrough kind of season for Palo Alto's Martin Trainer and it seems to be only getting better for the one time Gunn High golf standout.
Trainer, who concluded his sophomore season at USC this spring by winning the Pac-10 Conference individual title and helping the Trojans claim the team crown, put himself in contention for another title on Monday at the 100th California State Amateur Championship at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Trainer fired a 2-under-par 69 on the Ocean Course and found himself in a three-way tie for fourth place after the opening round of stroke play.
"My goal is to be the medalist," Trainer said. "I drove it very well today, which makes the game easier. I was always in a good spot. My conference championship win reinforced my confidence and proved to be that I can win big events."
Trainer won the Pac-10 title just down the road from the Olympic Club on the Stanford Golf Course. He survived a seven-hole playoff to win the title in April.
Trainer also has had success in San Francisco. He won the San Francisco City title in 2008 and advanced to the final 16 in 2009 when the championship was held at Lake Merced.
Trainer was tied with Ben Geyer of Arbuckle and Brent Brockermeyer of Los Angeles. Two others shot 68 to share second place. Trainer bogeyed the 176-yard par-3 second but got it back to even-par with a birdie on the 391-yard par-4 ninth hole. Trainer made his move with a birdie on the 171-yard par-3 10th and another birdie on the 504-yard par-5 11th. He got his fourth birdie of the day on the 438-yard par-4 16th, but bogeyed the 414-yard par-4 18th hole to finish at 69.
Menlo School junior Andrew Buchanan of Los Altos Hills shot a 1-over-par 72 and finished in a tie for 30th following the opening day. Buchanan, playing the tougher Lake Course, picked up a bogey on the 229-yard par-3 third hole but got back to even-par with a bird on the 457-yard par-4 fifth. He bogeyed the 439-yard par-4 ninth hole to shoot 36 on the front nine. On the back nine, Buchanan registered nine straight pars for another 36, giving him a 72 on the day.
Robert Salomon of Portola Valley shot a 3-over-par 74 on the Lake Course and was in a tie for 53rd place after the opening 18 holes, which included three bogeys and 15 pars.
Other Peninsula players competing included Matt Hovan of Redwood Shores (tie 43rd), Brent Booth of Los Altos (tie 53rd), Spencer Fletcher of Los Altos (tie 106th) and Maverick McNealy of Portola Valley (tie 142nd).
Philip Chian of Covina, a junior at Long Beach State, was the first-round leader after shooting a 4-under 67 on the Ocean Course. Golfers took advantage of the sunny skies and not a hint of wind or a glimpse of fog, which resulted in the good scores. Of the 17 scores under par, 15 came on the easier Ocean Course.
Nine former champions are in the field, including 2010 champ Scott Travers. USGA officials were on site Monday to survey recent changes to the venue, which will host the 2012 U.S. Open.
The top 32 players will advance after Tuesday's second round of stroke play to single-elimination match play on the Lake Course. The scheduled 36-hole final will be Saturday.