Martin tackles Olympic with excitement and fear

By Doug FergusonJune 12, 2012, 12:20 am

SAN FRANCISCO – Casey Martin has never allowed himself to look too far into the future.

Even looking back, it is no less amazing to see him and his cart back at The Olympic Club, riding between shots during a practice round on Monday at the U.S. Open, then walking painfully back to the cart with a limp that has become as much a signature for him as a fist pump for Tiger Woods.

Martin could not have predicted 14 years ago when he left the U.S. Open after his historic ride that he would still be competing against the best in the world. He gave up tournament golf six years ago and took over as golf coach for the Oregon Ducks.

He could not have predicted he would still even have a right leg.


Video: Casey Martin news conference

Video: Dennis Miller news conference


''I'm 40 now, and so this is at that point where I didn't know if I would ever really be able to keep my leg,'' said Martin, who suffers from a rare circulatory disorder that led him to sue the PGA Tour for a right to use a cart. ''So it's not great. When I wake up, I feel it. When I get out of the golf cart, I feel it. When I travel with the team and travel down here, I definitely feel it. That's always going to be the case. And so I'm not complaining.

It's hanging in there.

''But I'm not going to be running a marathon, either.''

Running a marathon seemed more plausible than Martin playing another U.S. Open - at Olympic Club, no less.

The only competition Martin has had over the past six years was an occasional game with his players, or a charity event that often featured a scramble format on short golf courses designed for amateurs. But with Olympic hosting another U.S. Open, he figured it was worth a shot.

King Martin recalls his son telling him he thought he would enter the U.S. Open.

''As a USGA member, I got a USGA hat in the mail,'' the father said. ''I put it up in my office at home, let it sit there, clinging to that dream. It has a little more meaning to me right now. This is a godsend, I can tell you that.''

It's a script even Hollywood would have a hard time believing.


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His coaching schedule allowed Martin to go through local qualifying in Washington, and in his first serious competition since he became a golf coach, Martin made it through. The sectional qualifying last week was two days after Oregon reached the NCAA semifinals at Riviera. On little sleep, Martin was on his way to claiming one of two spots for the U.S. Open when he couldn't find his tee shot on the fifth hole of the second round.

His caddie found it at the last minute - it was hidden by a clump of mud, and Martin believes a cart was parked over the ball at one point - so instead of going back to the tee and probably taking double bogey, Martin hacked it short of the green and chipped in from 30 yards for birdie.

With a 5-foot par putt on the last hole, he was on his way back to Olympic.

''That's kind of when I thought, 'OK, maybe something greater than just myself ... something's going on here,''' he said. ''It was a great day, and I've used the word 'magical,' but it really was kind of a magical day for me to get here.''

Despite the controversy surrounding him and his lawsuit for the right to ride, Martin has nothing but the best memories of Olympic in 1998. He had sued the Tour for a right to ride a cart. He qualified for the U.S. Open, and because a court had issued a temporary injunction against the Tour, the U.S. Golf Association went along with it and let him ride.

He played a practice round with Tiger Woods, his old teammate at Stanford, before thousands of fans. He was more nervous than ever, especially with a 3:10 p.m. tee time in the first round. He opened with a 74, followed with a 71 to easily make the cut and wound up with a tie for 23rd.

A year later, Martin earned a spot on the Tour through the Nationwide Tour. And in 2000, the Supreme Court upheld his lawsuit against the Tour. Martin played one year on Tour and never returned to the big leagues.

''I probably wouldn't have thought I would be coaching,'' he said. ''When I was going through my trial and through my challenges, I didn't have a real long-term vision of professional golf. I thought it would be a pretty short window. And so here I am, 40. Even though I'm not playing for a living, I'm still playing. And so I'm grateful for that.''

Martin has a practice round scheduled on Tuesday with Woods, and the gallery figures to be enormous. That's how it was during their practice round in 1998, though Martin was playing the Nationwide Tour and accustomed to a regular diet of competition.

His return to Olympic has been overwhelming, only he feels less prepared for it.

''It kind of feels like 1998 all over again with a lot of the attention, and it's great,'' Martin said. ''I'm totally flattered, but last week it was a very challenging week for me. Just a lot of demands on my time. I'm just not built for this. I don't have an agent. I just kind of live my life. Then all of a sudden it was just kind of being bombarded.''

It's a nice problem to have, especially with a return to Olympic for another U.S. Open. With his right leg, Martin has learned to expect nothing and appreciate everything. With or without the U.S. Open, he feels life has given him plenty.

''We have the mindset as parents that we want our kids to grow up to be a stud superstar,'' King Martin said. ''When I see how God has a totally different design for his life, and it's much more incredible than I could have designed, for me to guess where it's going next is beyond me. I'm so grateful that he's had such an extraordinary life to this point. We all go along for the ride, take it day by day and trust whatever comes, comes.

''I don't want to lose the fact of how grateful we are he is where he is.''

The player in Martin knows what he's up against, and it goes beyond a right leg that makes it painful to even walk. The opening six holes at Olympic are brutal, and the U.S. Open no matter where it's played is called the toughest test in golf for a reason.

''People have been coming up to me this week going, 'Way to go, I'm so excited for you, you have to be so excited.' And I am. I want to make it clear that I really am excited to be here,'' Martin said. ''But there's also in the back of your mind the little fear factor of, 'I have to play this golf course.' And I don't play or practice like a lot of these guys do, and yet I still want to compete.''

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.


Here are some other social media posts that have surfaced:


Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''