As the 2012 U.S. Open is right around the corner - and numerous sectional qualifiers are wrapping up across the country - blasts from golf's recent past are earning their way into the Open tournament field. While names like Davis Love III and Dennis Miller (the golfer, not the comedian) headline the qualifying roster in the wake of a career drop-off, one name jumps out for an entirely different reason: Casey Martin.Perhaps better known as "that guy who convinced the PGA Tour to let him use a golf cart", Casey Martin, now 40 years old, warmed the hearts of many golf fans over a decade ago when he successfully sued the Tour for the right to ride a cart because of a rare circulatory disorder in his right leg in 1999. Thanks to his strong play over the past week in Tennessee, Martin - now the golf coach at Oregon - will be making his long-awaited return to the US Open.
He had planned on going to North Carolina next week to watch recruits in a junior tournament.
"This is a little better," Martin told reporters after learning he had qualified to play in the Open.
Martin played on Tour for a brief time after winning his lawsuit in late 1999, but continued health issues and poor play limited his playing time. His continued ailments related to the poor blood circulation in his leg literally makes every step more painful than the last. As such, Martin has some realistic expectations heading into the 2012 Open.
"I'll be nervous," he said. "It's really hard. I want to be excited, but I know when I get on the first tee, it's going to be difficult."