After carding rounds of 74 and 75 for a 36-hole total of 9-over 149, Casey Martin won’t make the weekend cut in the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco.
This year the former Nationwide and PGA Tour player and current Oregon men’s golf coach qualified for his second Open – the first was in 1998 also at Olympic, when he finished 23rd. He has been an inspiration this week.
Martin has a birth defect in his right leg known as Klippel Trenaunay Weber syndrome, and limps and is in constant pain. It’s quite likely that one day the leg will have to be amputated. In a successful lawsuit against the PGA Tour 11 years ago, Martin earned the right to use a golf cart to navigate courses. The USGA allowed him to use one this week at Olympic.
Before Tiger Woods teed off Friday, Martin was there to shake Woods’ hand and wish his former Stanford teammate and good friend luck. Earlier, Martin visited with reporters and discussed his experience at the 112th U.S. Open. Here’s what he had to say.
Q. What was the experience out there?
CASEY MARTIN: It was great. Hard. Wasn’t really happy with how I played today. Just missed a lot of putts and hit a few loose shots when it was important. But it’s wonderful competing. I haven’t done it in so long it really feels great to get out there and grind away.
Q. When was the last time you actually competed?
CASEY MARTIN: I probably was a long time ago. I think 2006 maybe was a legitimate tournament, I think.
Q. Do you remember the tournament?
CASEY MARTIN: Might have been the Nationwide Tour that was in Eugene, I think.
Q. What do you take away from this overall experience?
CASEY MARTIN: It’s flattering of the flattering to be here to get attention like this and as a competitor I’m disappointed right now, but it’s, these are experiences that don’t come around very often to get to play in a U.S. Open in these conditions. So it’s a special week.
Q. You hinted at the putting today. Can you talk about that? It was so close that you just couldn’t get it in?
CASEY MARTIN: I hit a lot of putts that looked good. The speed didn’t quite match, and they just, I was on the edges for a lot of 20, 30 footers and never really got one to drop and I really needed a couple to go in.
Q. Were they par saves or birdies?
CASEY MARTIN: A lot of those were birdies. A lot of those were birdies, yeah.
Q. Can you look at the scoreboard or after yesterday and say, hey, I beat Luke Donald, I mean, a lot of guys who the No. 1 and No. 2 golfer in the world had scores worse than you did?
CASEY MARTIN: Yeah, that’s nice. But one day, I’m sure they didn’t play well, let’s put it that way. So I am glad I wasn’t in last place; but I just, yeah, I’m glad I beat them that day, but I would feel better if I beat them the whole tournament.
Q. Can you talk about how difficult it was out there and also about digging deep and what it was like to get back into that mindset?
CASEY MARTIN: Yeah, it was extremely difficult. Obviously it’s just so hard to hit, especially on the side to hit those fairways and it’s so awkward after the tees and when I did miss a fairway I had a really bad lie on 1 and couldn’t advance it very far. And then I hit a little bit left on 6 and went down the slope, fortunately I was able to save that one, but the holes before I – it puts you on edge because it’s awkward. A lot of awkward shots. I love the golf course. I’m not wild about what they did to 6, but I love the golf course. I just think it’s a great test of golf.
Q. Were you able to stay in the present out there or were you at times saying, God I wish I had more air miles, I wish I had a bit of tournament play before this?
CASEY MARTIN: No, I didn’t think about that. I was out there giving everything I had.
Q. What do you think of the crowd support out there?
CASEY MARTIN: Awesome. The crowds were great to main really appreciate that. It was really touching of the.
Q. Is there any difference when you were competing back years ago?
CASEY MARTIN: I don’t think so. I received a left support throughout the years and it’s been awesome.
Q. Are you resigned that you’re not making the cut?
CASEY MARTIN: No, I would have liked to have made that last putt. I know that. I know that eight probably was for sure. And nine’s probably going to be odd man out. But you never know.
Q. What do you do now for the next five six eight hours?
CASEY MARTIN: That’s a really good question. I don’t know.
Q. Nerves any better today?
CASEY MARTIN: A little bit. I felt better out there today. Unfortunately I just still just hit a few loose shots an iron shot up the hill on 4 that really made me mad and then that one drive, so . . .
Q. What did you do, go in the wrong direction?
CASEY MARTIN: Yes, I did, I went to the wrong direction. That’s well said.
Q. Dogleg-left with?
CASEY MARTIN: I hit a great drive and then just really pulled a, well I don’t know if I pulled it or not, but I hit it way left on an iron that was, I had a great look at it, felt great, hit a horrible shot.
Q. Would you have been able to walk this course for one round or two rounds?
CASEY MARTIN: It’s always, that’s always a question. Yeah, if you put a gun to my head, sure; but it wouldn’t be a lot of fun.
Q. Assuming you miss the cut, you go back and start coaching the golf team or the school’s over though, right?
CASEY MARTIN: Yeah, do some recruiting stuff. Exactly.
Q. The appearance here certainly won’t hurt recruiting I assume?
CASEY MARTIN: I hope not, yeah. I hope not. We’ll see. The rain hurts the recruiting.
Q. Was it any harder playing fairly late yesterday and having a short turn around?
CASEY MARTIN: I thought it played really good. It’s hard to say. I would say the wind isn’t quite as bad as it was yesterday, or at least not yet. So that should lend for some good scoring, and there’s a couple pins that you can get to. A couple that are tough, but I think there are a few holes, the 10th hole and a few others that will give up some birdies, I think.
Q. With all the talent you have, do you ever think what if I had two healthy legs?
CASEY MARTIN: Sure, yeah, I thought those things, absolutely.
Q. Do you still do that?
CASEY MARTIN: Sure.
Q. Are you enjoying seeing Tiger back up at the top of the leaderboard?
CASEY MARTIN: Yeah, I love – golf’s not the same without Tiger at the top. I think at least from what I saw, he’ll be at the top a lot.
Q. Did you get any sense in your practice round with him or anything about this might be a special weekend for him?
CASEY MARTIN: Not necessarily, because I haven’t been around him enough through the years. I just know that when you listen to those shots and just watch him play, it’s hard to find any criticism of his game. It was really good.
Q. Were there a couple points in the last couple days where you thought to yourself, wow, this is an example of me having not done this for awhile?
CASEY MARTIN: Yeah, I guess. More just internally kind of thought process getting used to a routine of what you think about on every shot. I was hearing voices out there at times because there’s so many, is this the right club, just trying to make decisions and trying to be committed and trying to think. The biggest thing is actually just thinking like a great player. That’s the challenge when you haven’t done it and you have some bad shots that creep in there. So that was certainly rusty, if I could go back, I mean, in my mind and thinking and really being in a great routine would probably have been – that’s probably what these guys, when you play every week, you just get in such a rhythm.
Q. With respect to your former teammate in Tiger, do you now go from competitor to fan maybe behind him?
CASEY MARTIN: I’ve always been a fan. Yeah, I’ve always been a fan of Tiger and always will be. Just being a friend of his and watching him and what he’s done for the game, I just, I love pulling for Tiger.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
Reprinted with permission from Cybergolf.