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Cart case golfer shoots 90 in US Open qualifying

Ford Olinger, who has a degenerative hip disease and unsuccessfully sued the U.S. Golf Association for the right to ride a cart, used a walker for nine holes Monday, but failed to advance out of qualifying.

Olinger shot a 19-over-par 90 in intermittent showers at the South Bend Country Club and said he won't try to qualify for the U.S. Open again unless he gets permission to use a cart.

"If I can't ride I can't play," he said. "I'm not coming out here and doing this. I'm hurting too much right now. My chest is hurting because of all the drugs I'm taking. There's just no way."

Olinger, 33, is still appealing a ruling in March by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court in Chicago that a cart would change the nature of competition. That ruling came one day after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court in San Francisco upheld a lower court ruling that allows Casey Martin to ride a cart on the PGA Tour.

Both Olinger and Martin, who has a rare circulatory disease in his right leg, sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Olinger, a pro from Warsaw, Ind., contends it is unfair that Martin can use a cart and he can't.

"I'm in the same shoes. What's the difference?"

Chad Collins, 21, of Cloverdale, who played with Olinger on Monday, agrees.

"I don't know why they don't let him ride. It wouldn't bother me if he rode," said Collins, who advanced to the next qualifying round with a 3-under 68.

Olinger said the pain started when it began raining on the seventh hole, when he was 6 over.

"The knees started to lock in and then the hips started aching, then I had to watch every step, because it jolts me pretty good," he said.

Olinger's limp grew worse as the round wore on. At times he stopped, bent over and rested with his hands just above his knees. Other times he sat down on a seat on the Lunar Swedish Rollator, a device he used to steady his gait and relieve pressure on his back. The USGA gave him permission to use the device.

Olinger's brother, Maury, caddied for him, and his mother, Donna, followed along for support. She also watched two years ago when her son shot an 83 after a federal judge granted him a temporary restraining order, forcing the USGA to allow him to ride in the local qualifier. She didn't watch last year, though, when he shot an 88.

"I didn't want to see him in such pain," she said.

Olinger said the walker helped relieve some of the pain Monday. He didn't use it on the front nine because it is more hilly, which makes pushing the device harder. But without a cart, Olinger said he simply can't compete.

Four golfers advanced to the next round. Medalist Chad Jones shot a 66. John Connelly finished second at 67. Collins and Steve Stone each shot 68.

 

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