Casey Martin 14 years on

BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2012 US Open | General | 12 Jun 2012

In a light hearted but heart warming press conference today at the US Open Casey Martin looked back at the 1998 event at Olympic and talked about the controversy he created when he was granted the use of a cart to play the event.

Martin, who has a degenerative condition of the leg and is unable to walk a round of golf, now coaches at the University of Oregon but almost unbelievably found a way to play his way into this week’s field.

“I decided to qualify basically it’s Olympic Club and I had a wonderful experience here in ’98 and I thought it would be fun to try to maybe get back. It worked out in my schedule with recruiting and coaching that I could make it to the first stage up in Washington and then the second round was right in my backyard at Emerald Valley. So it kind of worked out that way quite nicely. And here I am.”

“It has been overwhelming really,” he said referring to the response he has had to making it. "It kind of feels like 1998 all over again with a lot of the attention and it’s great. I’m totally flattered and but last week it was a very challenging week for me. Just a lot of demands on my time I’m just not built for this.

“It’s like I coach and I don’t have an agent and I just kind of live my life. Then all of a sudden it was just kind of being bombarded. There was a lot of calls I couldn’t respond to, we tried to piece it together, but it can be a bit overwhelming. Just trying to enjoy it.

“I don’t like to be the centre of controversy and it kind of followed me for a long time there,” he said when referring to the battle he had with the then PGA Tour to try and gain the right to use a cart when he played.

“But it’s not my nature to necessarily seek that out. But I am hopeful the way that I conduct myself and the way I play or whatever that it really the controversy fades and that you can just hopefully just appreciate it. Somebody just trying to pursue their dreams like anybody else and just trying to play this great game that we all love. So hopefully that will be the lasting impression of it.”

Martin was a teammate of Tiger Woods when at Stanford and is still in awe of what he brings to the game. "Well, as I said I’m saying I’m 40, I’m 40 years old I’ve been in golf playing and now I’m coaching so I get to go and watch all the top players come up. Watch them when they’re young and no disrespect to anybody, that I’ve seen, but there’s no one even close that was like Tiger.

“That I have seen personally. There’s some great players out there. Some kids that you’re going to see coming up out of the college and amateur ranks, junior ranks that are phenomenal players and American golf I think is in great hands going forward with some great kids. But I don’t see any Tiger Woods.

Martin has not played a genuine professional tournament for six years and has created quite a stir that he has even made the field but what are his own expectations?

“I said jokingly to not shoot a million and to make contact. Which is sort of tongue in cheek, obviously. I would like to make the cut. I would like to get paid. Obviously there’s a lot of money in this tournament and that would be fun.

“But that aside, I’m just going to go out there and just compete. I don’t get to compete much and so I’ve gone from basically nothing to the pinnacle of golf, which is a lot to take in emotionally and mentally.

“But I’m going to go compete, give it my all, and see what that means. 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.”

Whatever views you held at the time of the decision to allow Casey to ride a cart when he earned the right to play the PGA Tour you could not help but be impressed by his humility, his humour and his candid look at himself.

He knows he is lucky to be at the US Open again but so too is the US Open lucky to have him

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    About the Author: Bruce Young

    A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of the game comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.


    Read all of Bruce's articles »

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