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Casey Martin Conference Call

Casey MartinThe Supreme Court handed down it's ruling today and ruled in favor of Casey Martin. We will now take questions from the media for Casey, for his attorney, Roy Reardon, for his agent, Chris Murray, and for his father, King Martin.

Casey, how did you hear about it?

I woke up this morning to my cell phone and didn't get to it right away. Then it dawned on me it was 7:25, which is about when the decision would be finalized. Then my regular phone rang and it was the commissioner. Tim told me I had prevailed and he congratulated me.

What was your reaction? Have you read the decision?

My reaction was relief. It was a great feeling. I had thought about it so much, I was kind of desensitized. It wasn't going to be a total shock either way. I didn't read the decision and I'm sure you guys know more about it than I do. I just know it was in my favor, 7-2.

Will it make a difference in your play? Will it help you to become a better player?

Hopefully, I can use all the help I can get. It has been my wish that once I got this behind me, I could play the way that I'm capable. But I don't think my recent struggles have been related to this. Certainly golf is a complex game and you have issues, but I just struggle to hit the kinds of shots I want to hit. When I'm over a shot, I'm not thinking about the court decision. It doesn't have a real tangible effect, but it might. It will be interesting to see how I start playing. I'm still going to take a couple of weeks off and work out some kinks in my game, but it would be my wish, my prayer, that I would start playing great and I could look at this time and see a change in the way my golf game goes, but I don't think there is any guarantee that that is going to happen.

When will you come back?

I'm taking three weeks off. I have taken a prolonged break because I needed it after playing five in a row and, mentally, it has been tough, just wondering what was going to happen.

Finchem said this decision was so narrow, it might affect just one person in the world - you. How do you feel about that and what do you think this will mean to disabled kids in any sport?

I haven't seen the decision. If it is narrow and just about me, it's not a real shock. I think this opens the door for people, I think, before an institution like the PGA TOUR or other sports groups, before they automatically knock down somebody's desire for accommodations, they might have to think twice and hopefully give some careful consideration the way, I think, the Tour did, just saying 'No, no, we can't have it.' So it might cause some people to think, those that are in those decision-making positions and hopefully it will have a trickle down effect, however, I don't think it will change the nature of sports because I don't know how many disabled athletes are there at the top level.

Your father seemed like he expected the decision to go the other way. Were you braced for it to go either way?

The way I'm built mentally, I prepared for the worst and like to be surprised positively instead of getting all rah-rah and getting disappointed. We kind of heard what the Supreme Court was saying and thinking and you realized that this was going to be a bigger hurdle than the first case. I was prepared for a negative decision against me, but praise the Lord, it went the other way. I was happy the way it came down.

Do you feel like a winner?

I don't know. I feel relieved. It's a relief to get it behind me that I don' t have to deal with any more legal issues. It's no guarantee that golf will be in my future forever, but I can always look back and know that I prevailed and that means a lot.

Will you pick and choose down the line where you will play, particularly a tournament like The International?

Yeah, for right now I'm just going to play the Buy.Com Tour. If I am able to get my game back to compete at the PGA Tour level, I'll do it. I'd love to get to that point to play 20 events and pick the 20 courses where I can get around easy. I would love to do it that way, and probably Castle Pines would not be in that mix, even though it's a spectacular place and a neat tournament. It would be a source of controversy for me just by the nature of how it is with the altitude and the hills, but in my perfect world, I would play in 20 events on flat courses. We'll see, I'm not too caught up with that. I will cross the tour bridge someday, hopefully soon.

What was the hardest part of this?

A couple of things. The waiting game, the uncertainty. Waiting to find out. The other hard part was being scrutinized, everybody having an opinion of you.. It's been hard. I've made a lot of friends, but in the back of your mind you always wonder what this guy said or how does he feel, and that's always been a little bit awkward because there will be people who don't agree with the decision, but there's always that tension of people disagreeing with you and I have handled it the best way I can.

We just got off the phone with Notah Begay, who is on your side. He said he thought you had something in common about being part of a high profile case. Do you agree with that?

Yeah, I speak with Noah a lot and he is one of my best friends. We both have unique backgrounds. We have some things in common as far as golf and notoriety and some of the things we've had to go through. I haven't talked to him in the last few weeks.

What has riding a cart the last three years done for you physically?

I'm in less pain than I was three-and-a-half years ago when I was walking quite a bit.. My leg hasn't improved to the extent where I'm willing to start walking again, but I think on a day to day basis, it has helped. It's taken some of the major stress and pressure that I was dealing with, away. My leg is still there, I still have issues. It hasn't cured anything, but I am in a little less pain now.

Mr. Roy Reardon, what is your view of narrow decision, as Mr. Finchem characterized it?

It is narrow in this sense. Those who predict that it will lead to cases coming over the transom involving all sports, I don't think that will come to pass. I do think that, beyond golf, the case has broader implications for the Americans with Disabilities Act. I do think that the uniqueness to it in terms of Casey, being a high quality golfer, played strictly by the rules. He simply couldn't walk the course. The court decided that letting him use the cart did not fundamentally alter the competition. In that respect, Mr. Finchem is correct. It is narrow in that it relates to Casey. That's the first time I heard him say it. I haven't talked to him, so I don't know.

Before the 2000 season, you were trying different treatments, and they were kind of painful and you postponed it. Now that you have the security of knowing you can play, will you consider a treatment that could keep you out of golf for a while but would help you in the long run?

That's a great question and something I have been thinking about. The therapy hasn't worked yet, but the doctors are still confident that it could work. There's a couple of other doctors of which I'm not really up to date with, my father might know more about them, but they have some ideas similar to what Dr. McDonough was doing in Chicago a couple of years ago, that I might pursue, but not immediately. That's still up in the air. It gives me more freedom. Even if I were to do something that would take me out of golf for a couple more years, and might enable me to do some other things, yes.

Where has this left you with your legal bills?

I have been very blessed. My first lawyer did it on, if you won, he'd get paid, but if he lost, he wasn't going to charge me. That was Bill Wislaw. I have paid some of my other attorneys, but not to the extent that maybe they would have if I had been a billionaire. It has been expensive, but I've been given a lot of breaks that way and one of the neat things, is, it is my understanding that because I prevailed, the Tour will have to pick up my attorneys fees, which is more of a burden that I've let on.

How much longer do you think your leg will hold up?

I think about it. I don't have an answer for it. Just because I won doesn't mean I will play golf for 25 years. I still have a lot of things to overcome. Through this all, God is faithful and has provided for me and I trust he will continue to do that. Certainly there are other hurdles, to be able to compete, and physically, I still have issues. The lifestyle has been trying. Needless to say, this has been a big win for me, but I still have to keep working hard and this is a big win and we will go from here.

Roy, the Tour claims this is a win-win and can still have some flexibility in maintaining its position that walking is still an integral part of the game. Do you see it that way?

No, I don't see it that way. I think the issue will come down to assess the individual aspect of the person who is seeking relief from a rule, so in that extent, it's an individual matter. But I think it's certainly not a win-win. He could have had this win-win a long time ago by simply agreeing to give Casey a pass. I think it's a win for Casey and for the disabled in America and I don't think it will be as hurtful as the PGA was predicting, with that I agree.

Has your physical disability caused an erosion in your golf game?

I don't believe it has. I have got things because of my leg that make it more challenging, but I don't blame it on my leg, it's awful competitive out there. I'm not putting blame on anyone but myself. It would be great to have a healthy leg. I have played great at a high level, but I haven't been able to sustain it.

Was there ever a point where you hoped Tiger might come out more vocal on your side?

Certainly, it would have been great for him to take a greater stance and I understand why he didn't . It's great to win this without having to pull those kinds of strings. I never asked anyone for any help. Any player that did say things or got involved was strictly because of them. I'm grateful because I didn't want to put anyone in an awkward situation. It wasn't that important to me. If it was meant to be, it was meant to be. God is a lot bigger than Tiger and he didn't need Tiger Woods and I'm grateful the way it turned out.

Do you have any bitterness toward the PGA?

I'm not bitter. I wish it would have been handled differently. I have tried not to be bitter, but I can't say that I've succeeded totally. I want to put this behind me. They have treated me fine. I get along with them. I don't foresee any major tension there.

Mr. Reardon, how would this ruling apply to a Ford Olinger? Will they have to go through same process?

Unfortunately, should the PGA take that position, the person would have to take that same route, namely, move for a preliminary injunction and then go on through a trial. I do think that for everyone who applies for an exemption, they have to prove disability, to prove what that person wants to use - in Casey's case, it was a cart - is a reasonable accommodation, and thirdly, given a chance to use that accommodation, it doesn't fundamentally alter the game. So if they want to litigate this with every individual, they will be wiser than that, or at least I hope they will.

They could have had this outcome from Day 1 by making an exception. Is that your belief?

That is, and all they had to say was that they were making an exception for an extraordinarily unique situation and this does not apply to anybody else and we welcome Casey on the Tour. He has a tremendous disability that we are adjusting to, and everybody would have gone away happy.

I think they can and it will come down to the answer to the three questions. Are they disabled within the terms of the Civil Disabilities Act? Is the accommodations they are seeking a reasonable one?

Both of those things, the PGA conceded. The one thing they were left to argue was if you let them use the cart, did you fundamentally alter the competition? They can litigate, but they have to answer those questions or they will wind up in court again.

Will the USGA have to make accommodations for their competition?

I wouldn't want to speak to their case. I think they will have to rethink their position. The fact they have let Casey play in the U.S. Open even though they were not part of the case in Oregon, shows that they were listening and prepared to listen to what the Supreme Court said.

Casey, what does this mean for all sports? Can you speak to some of these fears?

I don't foresee this changing other sports. It's not realistic. If there was a deaf athlete, they can make some accommodations. As far as a wheelchair athlete playing in the NBA, some of those analogies were so farfetched, I don't foresee it as having a major impact. I think golf is the one sport where you can see it again. A prosthesis or needing accommodation, it will make the people making decisions think twice. I don't think disabled athletes will take over major sports.

Are you going to try to get exemptions.

No, I will just go back to Buy.com but I'm not in a hurry to do that right now.

If you don't get on the PGA Tour through the Buy.Com, are your prepared to go to qualifying school?

Yes, I will prepare just like everyone else.

How about some of the support you got from other players? Are you surprised by how much they supported you?

I have heard a lot of players say they weren't sure at first, then were on my side later on. I won't be naming names, but I am grateful for that. I didn't expect that. The early criticism wasn't overly harsh.

Did you feel over time that more guys came to your side?

Yeah, not because I was asking, but I have had friends who said, really the bulk of the tour is on your side. I think that's been the way it's been, but all of them have not been overly vocal. I think I had a lot of support behind closed doors.

Will you think where you will play in terms of your ability or where you might avoid controversy?

I will pick courses that are easier to get around. Although I don't want controversy, I have no problems of playing a difficult course with hills and such, but I would rather not do it.

Because of finality, have the last few weeks been tough?

Certainly the last couple of months have been. I never got too excited before because I knew there were appeals. But this time, in the last few months, it weighed heavily on me. I'm thrilled to have it over with.

Can you see yourself becoming a role mode for athletes?

Yeah, I would love to be in that role. I think I have been. It wasn't the main reason I got into this, but if my situation has helped in any way, then I am happy. I would love to have that happen. I get a lot of fan mail from well-wishers and hopefully that will continue.

Is there a downside to this for American sports or organizations?

I don't see a downside. Obviously, I am biased. I don't see where the downside can be. They say this can open the floodgates to all sorts of scenarios. I don't think that will happen. I don't think 10 years from now there will much change in sports because of this.

Do you feel one reason you won is because the Tour has allowed golf carts in qualifying school and on the Senior Tour?

No doubt. I went to Q school and they didn't check off that I had it. The Senior Tour allows them to ride and some ride and some don't. That was a big reason why I think we prevailed.

 
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