Martin's US Open return rekindles time with Tiger
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Driving around The Olympic Club brought back memories for Casey Martin that stretched beyond the last U.S. Open here and to his playing days with Tiger Woods down the road at Stanford.
Martin, Woods and the rest of the Cardinal often played each other for friendly cash wagers. Once, Martin said, he and teammate Notah Begay III beat Woods and Conrad Ray - now the Stanford men's golf coach - and won about $40, leaving the freshman Woods wanting an immediate rematch.
``We were leaving the next day on a trip,'' Martin recalled Monday after his practice round. ``And (Woods) says, ``I'll come out and let me try to earn it back.''
So the foursome played again.
Martin, who became the first player allowed to ride a cart at the U.S. Open in 1998 because of a painful circulatory disorder in his right leg, had a tremendous putting round. He won $192 from Woods, made a copy of the check and sent it home for his mother to cash.
She also put the copy in a scrap book, which the family still shows off to guests.
``So it's official,'' Martin said. ``You can come track it down. It happened. And, you know, it may never happen again, but it definitely did happen.''
Martin, now the golf coach at Oregon, also joked he might give Woods a chance to win back the money when the pair play a practice round together Tuesday.
``The problem now and the word on the street is it's hard to get,'' Martin said. ``I know that it's tough to get that wallet out. So at least that's what I've been told. So I'm going to give my best (Tuesday) to get in there.''
THE BACK 10: Lucas Glover's practice routine is out of whack this week.
The 2009 U.S. Open champion usually plays nine holes on Monday, 18 on Tuesday and nine again Wednesday ahead of a major championship. Instead, thanks to Olympic Club's complex set up, that's not possible.
The close proximity of the ninth tee - and far distance of the 10th - to the clubhouse pushed the USGA to send players off holes No. 1 and No. 9 (instead of the usual 10th ) during the first two rounds. Following the same pattern, Glover played 10 holes Monday and plans to play 18 Tuesday and only eight on Wednesday.
``Keeps it interesting,'' Glover joked.
Just about everything else at Olympic also is different from Glover's triumph at Bethpage Black three years ago.
For one, there's no rain in the forecast this week. The hills and unleveled lies create several blind shots, and the tree-lined fairways and tiny greens present more problems than any kind of rough.
``It's an open course and beautiful and old school,'' Glover said. ``The old saying is, `Blind shots are only blind once.' If you do your homework, it does make it easier. But you have to trust it and believe it. Not being able to see it plays tricks on you.''
Sort of like starting a round on nine.
RUNNER-UP RETURNS: The small silver plaques for runners-up inside The Olympic Club are often more recognizable than the posters and memorabilia of the winners. Names such as Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Payne Stewart adorn the walls for their second-place finishes.
Try Michael Thompson, too.
No, not from a U.S. Open. Back in 2007, Thompson finished runner-up in the U.S. Amateur championship at Olympic.
He lost 2 and 1 against Colt Knost in a grueling 36-hole finale, and he hadn't played a meaningful round on the Lake Course again until after he qualified for the U.S. Open last week.
``I've been wanting to come back here for over two years,'' Thompson said. ``This golf course has a special place in my heart.''
Thompson still recalls almost every shot from that taxing week.
One of his shining moments came in the opening round when he beat Webb Simpson 5 and 4, shooting 5 under through the opening 14 holes, including a 15-foot birdie on No. 10. Thompson also made a 50-foot birdie on the fifth in the final.
``I've started thinking about all the shots I hit that week,'' Thompson said. ``All the tee shots, all the holes, just trying to feed off those good vibes. It will be much tougher to duplicate.''
DIVOTS: Woods teed off at 6:30 a.m. and played by himself Monday. He finished his practice round about 9:15 a.m. ... There is a zero percent chance of rain and highs in the 70s in the forecast through Monday. Temperatures range from the low 70s to upper 50s. The outlook is certainly one the USGA was hoping for after rains pounded Congressional last year. ... Little known fact: the name on Rickie Fowler's birth certificate is not Richard. It's simply Rick. ... The Curtis Cup will be played in 2014 at St. Louis Country Club. ... 1955 U.S. Open winner Jack Fleck, the first national champion crowned at Olympic, was signing autographs in the merchandise tent.
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