CASEY'S LAST STAND
As he fights for a place in the game, Casey Martin voices fears
about his future
Casey Martin is running out of time. Popping balls at the morning
sun on the practice range at the Nike Carolina Classic last
Saturday, Martin has only half an hour before his tee time.
"That's O.K.," he says. "I used to practice more when my leg
felt better, but these days a round of golf is about all I can
handle. The leg's getting worse. I don't think it's going to
last much longer."
Almost three months have passed since federal magistrate Tom
Coffin ruled that Martin could ride a cart during tournaments,
and Caseymania has died down. In relative seclusion he finished
12 strokes behind winner Brian Bateman at the Carolina Classic
and stands seventh on the money list with $53,643. Martin is in
position to win his PGA Tour card by ending the season among the
top 15 Nike players, but his game's vital signs are fading fast.
He has not had a top 10 finish since winning the season-opening
Lakeland Classic in January.
"Maybe I'm trying too hard," he says. "I really want to deal
with the pressure and do well, but it's hard when you feel the
whole world watching." Media scrutiny may have diminished, but
the Tour watches Martin's every move. Its Casey Martin rules,
issued in April, specify almost everything but which hand he
should steer with. Thou shalt not use the cart to carry
equipment. Thou shalt not give thy caddie a lift. Thou shalt not
have a windshield on thy cart. At Raleigh Country Club it
appeared that his eponymous rules applied to Martin alone.
During Wednesday's pro-am, several players and caddies rode
carts between the 18th green and the 1st tee. But when Martin
asked a rules official if he could give his caddie, Steve
Burdick, a ride, the answer was no.
On Saturday, Martin stood on his cart in the 8th fairway to see
if the group ahead had left the green. Legal? Tournament
director Jim Duncan said yes. Still, Martin often wonders
whether his next step will break a commandment or two. He's also
irked by the lack of support other players have for his cause.
It hurt when Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer testified against
him at the trial. It stung when PGA Tour players blasted
Coffin's ruling. On the Nike tour, his supporters are in the
minority. "Casey's a great guy, but they shouldn't make a rule
for one guy," says a leading Nike player, who asks not to be
identified. "Wait until it gets hot and humid and Casey's in the
cart keeping cool while we're all out in the fairway. Hell, yes,
I think it's an advantage."
Even Eric Johnson, one of Martin's best friends on the tour,
criticized a recent appearance he made at 3Com Park in San
Francisco, where he drove a cart to the mound and threw out the
first pitch before a Giants game. "That looked like putting the
three-footed man on display at the carnival," Johnson said last
week. "It trivialized what he's done."
Martin, fighting a nagging cough, has not slowed down. Before
arriving in Raleigh, he had a Monday outing in Durham, N.C., for
Hartford Life. He also has a book deal in the works, plus
endorsement obligations to Nike, Ping and Naya water, and he
recently agreed to be a contributing editor of WE, a lifestyle
magazine for people with disabilities. Martin gets little rest
in the best of times. His disease, Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber
syndrome, causes him to wake frequently during the night with
leg pain, and friends worry that his schedule is adding to the
toll. "I've told him to tone it down," says Notah Begay, a Nike
tour player who was a Stanford teammate of Martin's. "The people
demanding so much of his time don't realize how much pain he
endures." Adds Martin's brother, Cam, "Casey's never been one to
slow down for his own good."
Martin says his legal bills of "well over $100,000" are part of
what keeps him on the run. More pressing is his belief that his
playing days are numbered. "My leg actually feels better than it
did six months ago because I've been riding so much, but there's
definitely a downward trend," he says. "I doubt if I'll have the
leg much longer, and I don't know how a prosthesis will affect
my game, so I want to take advantage of the opportunities I have
Though he has not accepted any sponsors' exemptions offered by
PGA Tour event officials, Martin hinted last week that he will,
if asked, say yes to the July 2-5 Canon Greater Hartford Open.
Meanwhile he will play the Nike tour, striving to be a normal
pro like hundreds of others. "His life will never be normal,"
Begay says. "No matter how many tournaments he wins, he'll
always be the guy with the cart."
All Martin wants, of course, is to be the guy with the card.
FLIGHT OF ANGELS
At the Turespana Masters in Mallorca on Sunday, Miguel Angel
(Kicked Off the Ryder Cup Team) Martin finished second to Miguel
Angel (Kidney of Stone) Jimenez. Journeyman pro Jimenez was in
agony during Saturday's third round until a doctor injected him
with a painkiller. The benumbed Spaniard cruised from there to
beat Martin by two shots. "A magic victory," he called it before
going to find a urologist to treat his kidney stone. "I feel
today that I have seven or eight new white hairs in my head."
THE SHAG BAG
Mayday: Thanks in part to a famous maritime disaster, Jimmy
Green (below) shot an 11-under-par 60 last Thursday at the Nike
Carolina Classic. Green's wife had urged him to skip Carolina
for a cruise to the Bahamas, but he was leery about going to
sea. "Every time you turn on the TV, there's a documentary about
the Titanic. It made me nervous," explained Green, who remained
in the hunt until the final hole on Sunday, when a bogey 5 sank
him. He finished second.
Shameless Plug: According to an Internet poll, one of the 10
most popular Seinfeld episodes is "The Marine Biologist," in
which Kramer hits golf balls into the sea and nearly kills a
Surlyn-sucking whale by acing the animal's blowhole.
Ironhead: A Massachusetts man who uses the alias Jake says he is
a golf-club addict. "If my wife ever found out how many sets
I've gone through, I think she would have a heart attack," Jake
tells the Boston Globe. He purchased about two dozen sets of
clubs last year and has bought more than 150 sets in the past 20
years. "I don't smoke, I don't drink, and I don't gamble. This
is my only vice," he says.
Go Golf: During last Friday's first round of the LPGA's Sara Lee
Classic, Rachel Hetherington "looked as bad as a Mike Tyson
sparring partner," says one witness. The shaky Aussie, who could
barely swing a club at the 5th tee, hung tough and shot a
five-under-par 67. "It was a 24-hour flu," says Hetherington,
who tied for fifth behind winner Barb Mucha. "I'm just glad
there were lots of portable toilets near the trees."
The Wrong Range: According to fourth-year pro Moira Dunn, there
was also gunfire near the trees at the Sara Lee. "On Saturday we
heard bullets whizzing through the trees," says Dunn, who took
cover while playing partner Carin Koch ran for help. Police
never found the shooter, and play at Hermitage Golf Course was
Red Alert: After a nosebleed so serious that he was
hospitalized, Doug Sanders shot 78 in the final round of the
Home Depot Invitational to finish 31 strokes off the lead. He
then began lobbying for sponsors' exemptions to other events.
"They say the Senior tour doesn't have any color. Where can you
find color like Sanders?" asked Sanders, decked out in blue
pants, blue shoes and a red-white-and-blue shirt.
A Hall with No Roof: When Senior player Walter Hall phoned his
wife from Charlotte on the eve of the Home Depot, he learned
that she had just crawled out of a closet. Carol Hall had hidden
there while a tornado tore the roof off their Clemmons, N.C.,
house. Hall zoomed home to survey the damage, "but there was
nothing to do but sit and be miserable," he says. So he returned
to Charlotte and finished birdie-birdie-birdie to shoot 72 in
Friday's opening round. Hall ultimately came in 28th and earned
$7,993, much of which may soon be spent, fittingly enough, at a
PASS THE BIKINI WAX
Gary McCord, who turns 50 on May 23, is already celebrating. At
a birthday party attended by Cheech Marin, Johnny Bench, Mark
and Sheryl Calcavecchia, Phil and Amy Mickelson, and other
dignitaries at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., McCord
(left) wore a beanie and trench coat over "something I threw
together at the last minute." Golf's handlebarred bard was
"dressed semi-sanely leaving the house," he claims. "Then I saw
a box that had come from David Feherty. David sent me 50 pairs
of Depends, so I changed." At Grayhawk, family and friends
showered him with such age-appropriate gifts as canes equipped
with mirrors for looking up skirts ("goofy toys for a buffoon,"
he says) and cheered a PGA Tour Productions video showing an
apple-cheeked Gary in five-inch platform shoes on a 1974
Lawrence Welk show ("scared the hell out of me"). McCord then
doffed the trench coat to reveal his birthday outfit: a diaper
and a lei. "Two women dropped their cameras," he says. "It may
be hard to top that when I turn 51."
Golf and Race
DENTING SIFFORD'S ARGUMENT
Jim Dent successfully defended his Home Depot Seniors
Invitational crown on Sunday, the day after his 59th birthday.
His 12th Senior tour title was worth $165,000. He built a
five-shot lead in the final round, "but then I went to sleep. I
almost fell dead on the back nine," Dent said after edging Bob
Charles in a playoff. After 19 winless years on the PGA Tour, he
has at least one Senior victory in each of the past five years.
"I am blessed. Golf has made my life whole," exults Dent, a
former caddie at Augusta National who has won nearly $7 million
as a pro. "I've put my kids through college. I've got boats. I
have a house in Texas and another house in Florida, and I'm
debt-free." He takes issue with Charlie Sifford, who recently
bemoaned the plight of African-American golfers. "Things are
getting better. All the black colleges have golf teams now. I
was at the National Minority Championship in Florida two weeks
ago, and I saw a lot of kids who can play. If Charlie had been
there, it might have changed his mind," says Dent, who went to
Port St. Lucie to watch his son, Jim Jr., compete for Talladega
College. Dent applauds President Clinton's efforts to address
racial issues in sports and foresees a growing role for blacks
in the pro shop as well as on the Tour. "We need more black pros
in club jobs, and that's coming," Dent says. "If you can teach
people to play golf, then they don't notice what color you are."
A BLOCKBUSTER OF A HALL OF FAME
The biggest opening this month isn't Godzilla, it's the May 16
unveiling of the 75,000-square-foot World Golf Hall of Fame,
centerpiece of the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. The
Hall of Fame features a museum and an IMAX theater and is part
of a complex that includes a 300-room hotel and conference
center, a shopping plaza, the new headquarters of PGA Tour
Productions and a branch of the Mayo Clinic. There's also a
course dubbed The Slammer and the Squire after design
consultants Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen, who collaborated with
architect Robert Weed, the only weed to infiltrate these lush
acres. Other Village people honored this week are inductees Nick
Faldo and Johnny Miller, who'll have their names inscribed on a
lakeside Walk of Champions. Coming soon: an 11,000-square-foot
World Golf Library and Resource Center, the Godzilla of golf
THE LORD'S NAME USED IN A NEW VEIN
On April 23, 1968, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Sam
Snead and 1,400 others gathered for a Texas-sized dinner to say
goodbye to the Dallas Open. They were also saying hello to the
Byron Nelson Classic, which debuted that week at the 7,113-yard
Preston Trail Golf Club, designed by Nelson and Ralph Plummer.
The Nelson was, and still is, the only Tour event named after a
pro golfer. Lord Byron himself, then a 56-year-old commentator
for ABC, didn't play that year, preferring to give Palmer a few
tips on his stance. Miller Barber, though, was the last man
standing on Sunday. Playing with a swollen, infected right hand,
Barber made the turn with a nine-shot lead but won by only a
stroke after Kermit Zarley's back-nine 29, a finish as stylish
as the tournament's namesake.
What do these players have in common?
They're the only players to win NCAA individual and U.S. Amateur
titles in the same year. Nicklaus did it in 1961, Mickelson in
'90 and Woods in '96.