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Casey Martin
Martin makes first cart ride at Bob Hope
Casey Martin on verge of PGA Tour
Martin fails in qualifying bid
Disabled golfer fails in quest for US Open entry
Judge denies golfer's request to use cart
USGA calls golf carts unfair
Court ruling may affect Casey Martin
Appeals Court hears arguments on Casey Martin's use of a cart
A year later, Martin just trying to blend in
Martin's immediate goal: PGA Tour
Martin hopes for smoother 1999

Martin's immediate goal: PGA Tour

Casey Martin hasn't decided whether he will look for a sponsor's exemption to take his game and his cart to the PGA Tour, although his goal for the year is crystal clear.

"I want to make it to the tour," Martin said Wednesday from the Nike Lakeland Classic, where he is the defending champion at the Grasslands Golf and Country Club.

A year ago this week, Martin put the wheels in motion for a year that shook the golf establishment.

He sued the PGA Tour for the right to use a cart in competition because of a rare circulatory disease in his right leg that makes it difficult for him to walk. Granted the use of a cart pending the outcome of the federal lawsuit, Martin tied a tournament scoring record with a 19-under 269 to win the Lakeland Classic by one stroke.

A month later, a judge in Oregon ruled in his favour, and Martin became one of the biggest stories in golf.

He didn't win again on the Nike Tour, but he qualified for the U.S. Open in a playoff, then tied for 23rd at The Olympic Club, coming within two strokes of an automatic invitation to the Masters.

"Winning this event and the U.S. Open were probably my two highlights," Martin said. "At those points in my life, I couldn't believe what had transpired. It was a thrill and a blessing."

Martin's 1999 season did not get off an auspicious start. He finished at 291 last week in the Nike South Florida Classic, 16 strokes off the lead. He also said it was a "bad week" for his leg, meaning a lot of swelling after his round.

"Sometimes I wake and up and know it's going to be a bad day," he said. "It's just kind of there and you deal with it. It feels good this week."

He also feels another difference -- not nearly as many reporters following his every move.

Martin was overwhelmed by the attention of becoming the first player to use a cart in the U.S. Open and on the PGA Tour -- he missed the cut at the Greater Hartford Open. Now, he is more interested in talking about his game than his leg.

"My life was changed incredibly from a year ago, due in large part to winning the court case," he said. "Those first couple of months ... I can't explain it any other way than my life was bizarre. But I think that's subsided now. Things have gotten back to status quo."

Martin says the amount of attention drained him emotionally, which might explain why he sank lower and lower on the Nike money list as the year went on. Martin had a good chance to get his PGA Tour by finishing in the top 15, but took time off in the summer and played poorly in the Nike Tour Championship. He wound up 29th on the money list.

"I laid an egg," he said. "I wanted it so bad and had worked so hard, to play poorly there was a very big disappointment. But I've learned to take the good with the bad. I want to get in the top 15. I don't put that up on my wall and look at it every day. I just want to focus on my golf game and try to improve."


TW 14/1/99