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Casey Martin Qualifies With Golf Cart for U.S. Open Return

Casey Martin Qualifies With Golf Cart for Return to U.S. Open
Casey Martin rides down the fairway on the seventh hole at the Cleveland Open on June 14, 2001. Photographer: David Maxwell/AFP/Getty Images

Casey Martin again will be riding a cart for the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, qualifying for the golf season’s second major championship six years after ending his professional career.

Martin, who successfully sued the U.S. PGA Tour in 2001 for the right to ride a cart because of a degenerative circulatory disorder, was the medalist in yesterday’s U.S. Open sectional qualifying.

The 40-year-old Martin rode a cart during local and sectional qualifying and will use a single-rider vehicle when the U.S Open begins on June 14 in San Francisco, the United States Golf Association said on its website.

Martin, now the men’s golf coach at the University of Oregon, shot a 4-under-par 138 over two rounds at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell, Oregon. He sank a four-foot par putt on his final hole to earn one of two Open berths.

Martin was born with Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber Syndrome, a degenerative circulatory disorder that obstructs the flow of blood from his right leg to his heart.

In May 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, 7-2, that the Americans With Disabilities Act required the PGA Tour to exempt Martin from its “walking rule” because he couldn’t cover long distances on foot. The tour had argued that allowing one golfer to use a cart would “fundamentally alter” the competition.

Tiger’s Teammate

Martin, who was a senior at Stanford University when Tiger Woods was a freshman, first sued the PGA Tour in 1997. In June 1998, he sank a 25-foot putt for birdie to win a five-way playoff in a sectional qualifying tournament to win a spot in the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, the last time the event was held there.

“Simply incredible,” Woods said on Twitter. “Ability, attitude and guts. See you at Olympic Casey.”

Martin shot an 11-over-par 291 in the tournament, tying for 23rd. While playing the 1999 season on the development tour, he earned a PGA Tour card. His best finish in 2000 was a tie for 17th at the Tucson Open, and he missed 15 of 29 midway cuts that year. He’s been Oregon’s coach for the past six seasons.

Forty-eight golfers qualified for the U.S. Open in sectional tournaments held at 11 sites throughout the U.S. Among those joining Martin are Davis Love III, the 2012 Ryder Cup captain, and Bob Estes, who will make his 15th U.S. Open appearance.

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