It’s not quite a birthright but, if anybody’s name belongs on the trophy for the Santa Fe City Golf Championship, it would be Marty Sanchez.
His dad, Lee Sanchez Jr., has his named etched on the trophy six times and his uncle, who is also Marty Sanchez, is on there twice.
“Being able to put my name on the trophy like my dad and my uncle meant the world to me,” Marty Sanchez said.
But that was last year – the first time he played in the championship flight.
Now he’s back to defend his title when the tournament kicks off this morning at the Santa Fe Country Club. It finishes up Saturday at The Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe.
“It was a great experience,” Sanchez said of last season. “It was a big accomplishment because I played really well. I had a really good college season and I’ve had a really good summer season, and I’m looking forward to adding to it.”
A St. Michael’s High School graduate who won an individual championship in 2010 and two team championships with the Horsemen with his father as coach, Sanchez is getting ready for his final season of college golf and his first at Western Texas A&M.
Just as last season’s championship helped launch him into a strong college season, Sanchez is looking for a similar turn of events again this time around.
“The tournament is just a small tournament, but it gave me a lot of confidence,” he said.
The tournament used to be bigger, played over three days and drawing all the top golfers in the region. And with Sanchez, as well as Collin Pratt – who was one strong tournament from reaching the U.S. Open – in the field, the city championship is regaining its luster.
“I like that they’re bringing the historic side of the city tournament back by having it at both Santa Fe courses,” he said. “It brings in more people for the city tournament. I think they’re on the right track. My hat’s off to all of them. They’re doing a good job, the city of Santa Fe.
“Hopefully, in a couple of years, it will turn into the same kind of field as the Albuquerque City Championship or something comparable.”
But it’s still a noteworthy line on the résumé, he said.
“There’s a lot of good players in the field,” Sanchez said. “I’m really looking forward to it. The hardest thing to do in sports is win it twice.”
That, however, doesn’t mean there is any additional pressure.
“It doesn’t really change things too much at all,” he said. “I’m still focused and I still want to win. It would be great to put my name on it twice.”
Last year, Sanchez took control with a 31 on the back nine on the opening day, then followed that up with a 31 on the front nine on the second day to build an insurmountable lead.
And that allowed him to soak up the experience.
“My dad was out of town last year, but my grandpa was in the cart with me the whole way,” Sanchez said. “Just having my grandpa with me the whole way was great. And my dad made it out to the last two holes. I think I won by eight or nine shots. My dad told me to enjoy going up to the last two holes as I walked up the fairway.”
He’s hoping to do the same thing Saturday as he strolls up the finals then, again.