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GOLF: Martin off to court in bid to cut handicap.

EVERY so often a new household name appears in sport.

Soccer has already accepted 'Bosman' is the name given to players' freedom of contract.

Now it's possible 'Martin' will stand for the obligation of sports organisations to accommodate handicapped athletes world wide.

Disabled American golfer Casey Martin, a former Stanford University pal of Tiger Woods and Notah Begay, wants the right to use a caddy car on full US Tour golf events.

Since birth, the 27-year-old has had a rare circulatory disease called Klippel-Trenaunay-Webber syndrome.

Because his blood does not circulate properly through a withered leg, were he to fracture the bone it could require amputation. Martin's every step risks permanent damage. There is no known cure.

Now he finally gets to argue his case against the PGA Tour on January 17 in the Supreme Court - the highest legal body in America.

The basis of the dispute concerns whether walking a golf course is so fundamental to the game that Martin's request to ride in a cart during the PGA Tour gives him an unfair advantage over other players.

The USPGA believes it does and also argues its right to make the rules.

Greats like Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson all argue against Martin using a buggy and even his great pal Woods says: "Although I deeply sympathise with Casey, I feel using a cart does offer an advantage."

If Martin wins his case, it will open a whole batch of claims all over the world.

Lee Westwood has held off the challenge of the European Solheim Cup team to win the Golf Writers' Trophy for 2000.

In what developed as a straight fight between the two - only two other first-place votes were cast by members of the Association of Golf Writers in their annual poll - Westwood emerged as a clear winner following a season in which he took the European No.1 crown held by Colin Montgomerie for the previous seven years.

Although Monty took the award only once during his long reign, Westwood has now captured it for the second time in three years. Victories in America and Japan helped him to the trophy in 1998.

He said: "I'm very proud to have won again. It rounds off my season wonderfully and I will be doing my best to retain it.

"The achievement of the Solheim Cup side should be recognised as well, though. Beating the Americans has helped to put women's golf back on the map."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 3, 2001
Words:408
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