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Supreme Court rule that Martin can use cart

The Supreme Court has ruled that Casey Martin can use a cart to compete on the PGA Tour.

The organization is against Martin, who suffers from Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber Syndrome, using a cart, saying it alters the game and gives him an unfair advantage.

However, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the PGA violates the Americans with Disabilities Act if Martin isn't allowed to use a cart.

Martin's condition makes it painful and dangerous to walk. Doctors say that too much stress on his right leg could cause it to break and someday force amputation.

"We have no doubt that allowing Martin to use a golf cart would not fundamentally alter the nature of the PGA Tour's tournaments," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in the majority opinion. He said the purpose of the tour's walking rule is to introduce fatigue as a factor that could influence the outcome.

But Stevens said Martin's circulatory disorder, which obstructs blood flow to his right leg and heart, causes him greater fatigue even with a cart than is experienced by competitors who walk.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the dissent, joined by fellow conservative Justice Clarence Thomas.

Martin didn't learn about the ruling until talking by telephone with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. "I was sorry about the result of the litigation, but was certainly pleased from his perspective that he can now focus totally on golf and have this behind him, and there isn't any way now in the future that he can't be involved in it," said Finchem.

The decision upholds a lower court ruling that told the PGA to let Martin use a cart. The previous decision said using a cart would not give him an unfair advantage over his competitors. He sued the PGA Tour four years ago, saying the ADA -- enacted in 1990 -- gave him a right to use a cart.

"I'm happy for Casey Martin," said Hal Sutton, a member of the PGA Tour's Policy Board. "I'm disappointed they didn't see that a golf cart is an added advantage. I certainly felt Casey was in tough position there. But when sports are not able to make rules for their own game I think it's going to create a big problem. Who does what? We're in a real gray area here now. Who's the governing body of the door they opened?"

Martin was a teammate of Tiger Woods at Stanford, and the two used to room together on road trips. Woods has said that Martin sometimes would be in so much pain that he couldn't get up to use the bathroom. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have spoken against allowing any player to use a cart in golf competition to accommodate a disability. They have said that using a cart would give Martin an advantage and take away a basic part of the game -- the ability to walk an 18-hole course.

Roger Maltbie, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, was also against the ruling. "I have to say I'm surprised," Maltbie said. "I don't see how a sports organization, which has been making its own rules suddenly has that ability superseded by the ADA. But the Supreme Court has ruled. That's what they're there for -- to make the tough call."


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