Casey Martin will be back at Olympic for the U.S. Open 14 years after he made history, when he played with the use of a golf cart. More than a decade ago, Casey Martin successfully sued the PGA Tour to allow him to use a golf cart, necessary because of a birth defect in his right leg. After playing in the 1998 U.S. Open and finishing 23rd, Martin qualified for the PGA Tour. He played for several years on the Nike and Nationwide tours, but last played in an event on the Nationwide tour in 2006.
That year, he became the head golf coach at the University of Oregon, where he has been ever since. Over the weekend, he coached his team in the national semifinals against Texas. Then, last night, Casey Martin re-emerged when he qualified for the U.S. Open by shooting a 4-under par over 36 holes to win the Sectional Qualifier at Emerald Valley. According to this article by Adam Jude before the event, Martin estimated that he hadn’t played a competitive round before this year’s local U.S. Open qualifier in five years.
You can read Adam Jude of the Eugene Register-Guard‘s timeline, as he was covering the event live. The 40-year old Martin was leading the event, but bogeyed both 16 and 17, and held a one stroke lead over one of his University of Oregon players, Daniel Miernicki, going to the 18th hole. Officials considered calling it due to darkness after storms had delayed play during the day, but Casey Martin insisted on finishing out. He then made a five-foot par putt in the dark to return to the U.S. Open.
Casey Martin was a great, inspirational story anyway the first time that he played in a U.S. Open and made the Tour. To reach the Open again at age 40, after basically being out of competitive golf, is amazing.
[photo via @AdamJude_RG]