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Tour Seeks Supreme Cart Ruling


The PGA Tour asked the Supreme Court Wednesday to rule that disabled golfer Casey Martin has no legal right to ride in a golf cart between shots during its tournaments.

In an appeal filed with the nation's highest court, lawyers for PGA Tour Inc. argued that a federal anti-bias law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, should not apply to Martin's case.

The ADA does not regulate "standards established for competitors (here, professional golfers) in athletic competitions held at places of public accommodation," the appeal said.

A federal judge and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals previously rejected that argument, allowing Martin to use a cart in PGA Tour-sanctioned events.

The Supreme Court, now in summer recess, is not expected to say until October whether it will grant the PGA Tour's appeal and hear arguments in the case. If it denies review, the lower courts' rulings will stand.

"I think we all wish it would be resolved and put to rest for the final time," Tiger Woods, a teammate of Martin's at Stanford University, said Wednesday in Lemont, Ill., where he's playing this week in the Western Open.

"But the PGA Tour is trying to protect the game ... and Casey is trying to do what he thinks he's entitled to. And, unfortunately, those two parties don't see eye to eye."

Martin, who sued the PGA Tour in 1997, has a circulatory disorder in his right leg that makes it painful for him to walk long distances. The disorder, a congenital vascular condition, is called Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber Syndrome.

The PGA Tour's appeal also argued that the ADA was never meant to require professional sports organizations to waive competitive rules for disabled competitors.

"So far as we are aware, no court has ever before held that a professional sport must waive a legitimate competitive rule to enable a would-be participant, disabled or not, to more successfully compete," the appeal said.

In ruling for Martin last March, the 9th Circuit court relied on a provision in the ADA that bans discrimination on the basis of disability "in the full enjoyment of ... facilities ... of any place of public accommodation."

The law's definition of public accommodation includes places of exercise and recreation, including golf courses.

"It's a shame because I understand wat the PGA Tour is trying to do," Woods said.

"Casey's one of my good friends and I want to see him be able to play because I know and he knows, and I guess everyone else knows, that his career is not going to be very long just because of his physical handicap."

The case is PGA Tour v. Martin, 00-24.

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