The U.S. Open prides itself on being the toughest test in golf.
It never said anything about wanting to have the toughest field in golf, and we can only hope it doesn’t follow the British Open down that road.
By staying true to its title – “Open” – the 36-hole qualifiers across the country this week delivered compelling stories of players who earned a spot in the U.S. Open. They were young and old, some with professional aspirations, others with only dreams, and one who can only get by riding in a cart.
Casey Martin rode his way to a tie for 23rd at The Olympic Club in 1998, the only major he ever played.
He never imagined going back to the same course in San Francisco at age 40, now the golf coach at Oregon, his limp more severe but his resolve stronger.
A former teammate of Tiger Woods at Stanford, he suffers from a rare circulatory disorder in his right leg that causes extreme pain and makes it virtually impossible for him to walk 18 holes.
Martin had to prove that to the PGA Tour in a lawsuit, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld. His single-rider cart caused a sensation at the U.S. Open, but it only took him so far.
Martin earned his PGA Tour card a year later, though he stayed in the big leagues only one season.
Six years ago, he gave up his tour career to become a golf coach.
In a race to finish because he was exhausted, Martin holed a 5-foot par putt on the final hole at Emerald Valley to earn the first of two spots from the Oregon qualifier.
He turned with his hands on his hips and looked to the gathering storm clouds, amazed at what just happened.
Woods was as amazed as anyone. He said Tuesday on Twitter, “Simply incredible. Ability, attitude and guts. See you at Olympic Casey.”
Martin isn’t going to win the U.S. Open.
Neither is Dennis Miller, the 42-year-old teaching pro from Ohio who provided the Caddyshack moment of U.S. Open qualifying when his putt hung on the lip so long that he turned his back and never saw it fall in.
Anthony Summers used to clean toilets at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Still toiling away on the OneAsia circuit, he flew from Australia to Chicago and qualified for his first major championship at age 42.