Martin deserves respect for fighting spirit

By Jason SobelJune 16, 2012, 1:33 am

SAN FRANCISCO – Bring up Casey Martin’s name – just mention him in passing – and within seconds the conversation will devolve into a lively debate about … it.

The degenerative right leg. The Supreme Court decision. The cart. The perceived advantage.

It is a topic that exudes talk show gold, providing fodder for the masses even now, more than a decade after a resolution was reached.

That’s because it so forcefully defines party lines. There are those who believe that due to his disability – Martin suffers from Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome – he was rightly awarded the use of a golf cart in between shots. There are those who feel it was the wrong decision, allowing for an unfair benefit in a sport where endurance is part of the game.

Video: Martin talks about Olympic now and then

Cart use still an issue 11 years later

For one day – heck, even for just a few minutes – forget your feelings. Put aside any satisfaction you’ve received in watching Martin ply his craft thanks to the Supreme Court ruling. Or suspend your outrage over him being treated differently than his fellow competitors.

Instead, think only about this: A man who was supposed to have had his leg amputated by now nearly made the U.S. Open cut this week.

Watching Martin play golf is an exercise in empathy. He perpetually maneuvers like someone who was just kicked in the shin, his limp so pronounced that it would look exaggerated if we didn’t know any better.

Simply walking from his cart to the tee box requires effort of fairly grandiose proportions, his machinations echoing that of a man twice his age.

When he stands over his ball, though, Martin more often than not tags it – to the tune of a 297-yard-per-drive clip this week at The Olympic Club.

And when he’s finished watching the ball sail through the sky and find land, he hobbles back to the cart. Martin drives slowly, straight down the fairway, a sheepish and almost embarrassed expression across his face.

He never wanted this. It was necessary for him to compete.

When asked after his second-round 5-over 75 whether he could walk a round or two on this course if he absolutely had to, Martin responded, “That's always a question. Yeah, if you put a gun to my head, sure. But it wouldn't be a lot of fun.”

Don’t mistake the facetiousness for authenticity.

There isn’t much fun for Martin when he’s on four wheels and his playing partners are hoofing it down the fairway. For a guy who shies away from the spotlight, he was thrust into it years ago and remains there now, whispers and stares and points in his direction every time he goes cruising past the gallery ropes.

On Friday, for every few spectators who yelled, “Go Casey!” in his direction, one would mirthfully ask, “Can I have a ride?”

Dealing with distractions is part of the gig for players who compete in major championships, but Martin endures more than his fair share because of this unique situation. Not that he expects otherwise, of course – and not that all distractions are negative ones.

Playing alongside Dennis Miller and Cameron Wilson, the group easily surpassed the number of observers following any other trio of sectional qualifiers. It was all for a good reason.

“The crowds were great to me and I really appreciate that,” Martin said. “It was really touching of them.”

For most of the opening 36 holes, he put on a pretty good show for them, too. Following an opening-round 74, the University of Oregon head golf coach was well inside the cut line as he made the turn.

Bogeys on four of his final eight holes, though – including on his final hole of the day – left Martin one stroke outside the number to return for 36 more holes this weekend.

Even so, it was a performance that should be applauded. Watching him compete can stir varying degrees of inspiration and motivation, but it’s impossible to witness Martin and not own appreciation for the journey.

You may now resume regularly scheduled beliefs on the long-debated Casey Martin issue. Agree with it or disagree with it, we’ve all got to acknowledge the man’s fortitude.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm