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June 26, 2013

Casey Martin booted from cart while watching U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier

Posted at 7:38 PM by Mike Walker | Categories: Casey Martin, USGA

Casey_300Casey Martin, the disabled golfer who successfully sued the PGA Tour in 2001 to use a cart, was not allowed to ride in a cart as a spectator at a U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier in Oceanside, Calif. Jeffrey Martin of the USA Today has the details:

Martin arrived Monday at a U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier in Oceanside, Calif., expecting to ride in a cart as he followed a couple of prospective recruits around the course.

He said he cleared his plan beforehand with tournament chairman Matt Pawlak. But after five or six holes, Martin says he was stopped and told the U.S. Golf Association had found out about the cart and it was not allowed. Because Martin was officially a spectator, USGA rules did not permit him to use a cart. The controversy was first reported by GolfWeek.

"It was brutal, the worst experience of my golfing career," Martin told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. "The long story short: I'm living my life, doing my job, and it sucked to have that taken away. I felt like I got on the bus and they ordered me to the back or even to get off.

"It felt horrible."

David Wharton of the LA Times reports that officials at the qualifier were following USGA rules that specify a "scooter cart" for disabled spectators:

The USGA has a longstanding policy about cart use by players and caddies at its championships. Disabled spectators can drive a single-rider, scooter cart from hole to hole -- if such carts are available -- or can be transported to certain viewing spots along the course.

Martin said he had spoken with officials in advance about his need to ride. He was given a normal-sized cart but was stopped five or six holes along. The USGA says he was offered alternate transportation to specified locations but declined.

The USGA released a statement on the incident that stops short of an apology:

"The United States Golf Assn. has been and continues to be a strong supporter of Casey Martin. The unfortunate situation at the U.S. Junior qualifier stems from a misunderstanding over the USGA Cart Policy at our championship events. We regret that this misunderstanding may have caused Casey an inconvenience, but it certainly was unintentional. We have extended to Casey accommodations that we offer all disabled spectators at our championships. Despite this unfortunate situation, we continue to admire what Casey has been able to accomplish in the game as both a player and a coach."

Martin, who played in the 1998 and 2012 U.S. Opens, is now the golf coach at the University of Oregon. Martin played college golf at Stanford with Tiger Woods.

Photo: Casey Martin rides a cart during a practice round with Tiger Woods at the 2012 U.S. Open (Getty Images).

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