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Martin Finally Enjoys Smooth Ride to a 64

Golf: Struggling to keep his card, he trails Lietzke by one shot after first round in Las Vegas marathon.

October 12, 2000|From Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — For Casey Martin, it has been a year of frustration and pain. His leg aches, he has played poorly and the PGA Tour is still trying to keep him from riding in a cart.

For one day in the desert, though, things finally went right.

Martin, battling on the course and in the courts to stay on the PGA Tour, shot an eight-under-par 64 Wednesday to trail part-time player Bruce Lietzke by one stroke after the first round of the 90-hole Invensys Classic.

Martin had a share of the lead with Olin Browne and Brad Faxon before Lietzke, who hadn't picked up a club in six weeks, finished a bogey-free round of 63 to take the lead.

"I don't want to complain, but I missed five putts under 14 feet," Lietzke said.

Lietzke, 48, the 1994 winner, hadn't played since the Reno-Tahoe Open in August and has played only nine times all year.

"I'm convinced there's a thing called muscle memory," Lietzke said. "I'm living proof of it."

Martin's round gave him a glimmer of hope that he somehow might earn enough in the last three tournaments of the year to make the top 125 and keep his tour exemption.

"All it takes is one week to turn it around," said Martin, who is 178th on the money list with $123,624. "And a 64 can go a long way toward turning it around."

Riding in a cart between shots, Martin had eight birdies and no bogeys.

He did it in a tournament that pays richly--$4.25 million in all, with $765,000 to the winner. It's money Martin sorely needs to get a big chunk of if he is to make the $250,000 or so he needs in the next few weeks to retain his tour card.

"This tournament is huge because of the big payout," Martin said. "I had my sights set on this tournament because, with a big week, you can do really good."

He has missed seven cuts in his last 11 tournaments, and has made only $12,480 since July.

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