June 13, 2012
Martin, cart and all, back at U.S. Open
By KIRK PENTON, QMI AGENCY
SAN FRANCISCO - Casey Martin has qualified for two major championships.
Both of them are U.S. Opens, and both have taken place at Olympic Club.
The 40-year-old golf coach at the University of Oregon was in the midst of a storm of controversy the last time he played in the tournament, in 1998. He suffers from Klippel Trenaunay Weber syndrome, where blood vessels fail to form properly, in his right leg.
Martin famously sued the PGA Tour for the right to ride a cart during competition, winning the case in 2001, and the game's greats, the player he grew up idolizing, fought against him.
Martin rode a cart in 1998 because the USGA allowed it, and he'll be riding again Thursday after winning a sectional qualifier in Oregon earlier this month. He harbours no ill will towards anyone after what happened 14 years ago.
"I try not to focus on it too much, and I don't take it personally," Martin said. "I realize that there is another side to my story, and people can certainly "¦ we can agree to disagree."
Martin spent Tuesday and Wednesday playing practice rounds with his former Stanford teammate, Tiger Woods. He still walks with a severe limp, and it's not like his leg is getting any better.
"I'm 40 now, and so this is at that point where I didn't know if I would ever really be able to keep my leg," he said. "So it's not great. When I wake up I feel it. When I get out of the golf cart I feel it."
Martin tied for 23rd at the 1998 U.S. Open, and it has the potential to be the feel-good story of the tournament if he can make the cut again.
"I'm going to go compete, give it my all, and see what that means," he said. "If that means last place, that's what it means. If it means first place, then -- it's not going to mean first place -- but if it, you know, I'm going to take whatever I get and consider this a great experience."