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Casey Martin cart case to go to US Supreme Court

Casey Martin.Allsport

The PGA Tour plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether Casey Martin should be allowed to ride a cart, Martin's lawyer said Wednesday.

Roy Reardon, who began working on the case after Martin won his lawsuit two years ago in federal court, said the tour asked for a 60-day extension to file its motion with the Supreme Court and was given until July 5.

The tour's policy board met last week in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and Reardon said tour officials sent an application to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in which they "now intend to file" a petition with the court.

PGA Tour spokesman Bob Combs confirmed that the board discussed the Martin case, but "the tour is not yet prepared to make an announcement."

Martin, a Stanford teammate of Tiger Woods, suffers from a rare circulatory disease in his right leg that makes it difficult for him to walk.

He successfully sued the PGA Tour in 1998 for a right to ride a cart, and became the first player to ride in the U.S. Open and on the PGA Tour. In March, the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco unanimously upheld the Oregon court's decision.

Complicating the issue was a similar lawsuit by Indiana club pro Ford Olinger against the U.S. Golf Association. Olinger also sued for a cart because of a degenerative hip, but an Indiana court ruled against him.

One day after the 9th Circuit ruling on Martin, the 7th Circuit Court in Chicago upheld the decision against Olinger.

In its application for more time to Justice O'Connor, the tour noted that "unsettled issues are substantive and of potential widespread significance," Reardon said.

The tour maintains that walking is an integral part of the game. Martin sued -- and won -- under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Martin is playing the Kemper Open in Maryland this week and was not immediately available for comment.

"I'm disappointed they did this," Reardon said. "They've had the ability to see Casey perform, first on the Nike Tour and now on the big tour, and they have learned, I'm sure, that he has no advantage over other golfers when he uses his cart."

Martin has made the cut in six out of his 12 tournaments this year, his best finish a tie for 17th in Tucson. He is 157th on the money list with $71,721 and is in jeopardy of losing his card for next year.

The Supreme Court might be more inclined to take up the case because of the differing opinions in two circuits.

Reardon said he wouldn't expect the court to determine whether it will hear arguments until the fall, and a decision might not be reached until next year.


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