Considering everything Casey Martin has already had to deal with--a disabling disease in his leg and a lengthy court battle with the PGA Tour--today's two-hour wait was nothing.
Martin, needing to play well enough in the final Nike event of the season to place in the top 15 on the money list and earn his PGA Tour card for next season, just made it. A 37th-place finish at the Nike Tour Championship dropped him from 12th in the money standings to 14th--still good enough for his card.
"If I play like I did here, I won't be a very good PGA player," Martin joked. "I'm relieved and grateful. I admit that I'm a little bit shocked to have done it, but it feels really good."
Martin's achievement overshadowed the victory of Bob Heintz, who beat Marco Dawson in a one-hole playoff to win the event at Highland Oaks Golf Course, as well as the 14 other golfers who also earned their tour cards.
Martin, who shot a 6-over 78 in the final round, had to wait through the playoff to accept his award. As he quietly waited, his parents did all the celebrating for him.
His father, King, who was so nervous during the two-hour wait that he went and sat by himself in the car, said it was a fitting way for Martin to earn his tour card.
"He sort of limped in, didn't he?" King Martin said. "The fact that he got there the hard way was kind of indicative of his life."
Born with a rare circulatory disorder in his right leg, walking 18 holes is too painful for Martin. He needs to ride in a cart, which is prohibited on the PGA Tour, so Martin sued for the right to use one.
He won his case, but the tour appealed. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court could rule any day on the appeal.
One of Martin's most outspoken critics on the matter is PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem, who presented Martin with his tour card today. As he gave Martin his card, he shook the golfer's hand, then patted him on the back.