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Tour spin doctors at work

Trying to turn a public relations disaster into a publicity plus, the PGA Tour has all but embraced Casey Martin and his cart.

Commissioner Tim Finchem said Thursday that Martin almost certainly will play in a PGA Tour event this year and probably will have at least two years without legal interference to ride on the pro tour."Casey Martin is a guy you want playing on the PGA Tour," Finchem said. "He is an extremely popular individual and a role model. How would you not want him playing?"

After months of fighting Martin - and losing three times in court and even more decisively in the court of public opinion - the tour now seems ready to accept the disabled golfer.

The PGA Tour still plans to appeal the federal judge's ruling on Wednesday that allows Martin to ride in tournaments because his leg makes it painful to walk, Finchem said. But the tour will allow the appeal to unfold at its own pace. It could have requested an immediate stay of the ruling and could ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to expedite the matter.

"The main thing right now is that everyone needs to recognize that it might take years for this to be decided," Finchem said. "What we want to do is get back to playing golf. Casey will be afforded a cart."