Casey Martin returning to US Open

Casey Martin returning to US Open

Published Jun. 4, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

Casey Martin and his cart are headed back to The Olympic Club for the U.S. Open.

Martin, who successfully sued for the right to ride a cart because of a rare circulatory disorder in his right leg, earned a spot in the U.S. Open on Monday night when he holed a 5-foot par putt in darkness on the final hole at Emerald Valley Golf Club.

The 40-year-old Martin, now the golf coach at Oregon, turned with his hands on his hips and looked toward the darkening clouds after making the putt for a 36-hole score of 138. Had he missed, he would have been in a three-man playoff for two spots.

He had planned on going to North Carolina next week to watch recruits in a junior tournament.


''This is a little better,'' Martin told the Golf Channel.

Martin, a Stanford teammate of Tiger Woods at Stanford, has Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome, a rare circulatory disorder that causes severe pain and makes it virtually impossible for him to walk 18 holes. He sued the PGA Tour and won the right to use a cart in 1998, and the U.S. Open allowed him to use it at Olympic in 1998 when he qualified for the U.S. Open. He tied for 23rd.

Martin earned his way onto the PGA Tour in 1999 and eventually won his lawsuit to ride a cart. He failed to keep his PGA Tour card after one year, and eventually became the golf coach at Oregon. But with the U.S. Open returning to Olympic, and a qualifying site so close to home, he decided to give it a try. Martin had not played golf in nine days because of the NCAA Championships at Riviera, where the Ducks reached the semifinals on the weekend.

''I was just going to play golf,'' he said. ''And if I got hot, great.''

Martin opened with a 69 over the first round, and he started to think this was in the cards on the eighth hole. He couldn't find an errant tee shot, but just when he was about to go back to the tee to play his third shot, his caddie found the mud-covered ball in the rough. Martin wound up chipping in from 30 yards for birdie after what had looked like a sure double bogey.

He stumbled coming in with bogeys on the 16th and 17th, yet he insisted on finishing in the dark because he was exhausted from the NCAAs last week.

''I wanted to get it done because I need to sleep,'' he said. ''I'm exhausted. I really just wanted to rest. I should not have putted, but I'm very glad I did.''

It didn't take long for him to look toward next week at Olympic, a tough golf course built on tree-lined property that leads down to Lake Merced.

''I'll be nervous,'' he said. ''It's really hard. I want to be excited, but I know when I get on the first tee, it's going to be difficult.''