Thursday, July 16, 2009

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge denied a pro online poker player's request Tuesday to have his amateur golfer status reinstated.

Dusty Schmidt had filed a complaint seeking a preliminary restraining order that would have allowed him to keep his USGA amateur status and play in a series of events in the Pacific Northwest.

The USGA has maintained that Schmidt gave up his amateur status when he threw down a $1 million challenge to anyone who could beat him at 72 holes of golf and at poker.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman turned down the request, saying Schmidt did not meet a legal standard of having a contract with the USGA.

``It's disappointing, obviously,'' Schmidt said, ``because I wanted to play golf.''

Schmidt was a promising golfer from Southern California who went professional after a year at UC Irvine. But at age 23, he suffered a career-ending heart attack.

While recuperating, Schmidt took up online poker and eventually make a profession of it.

Several years passed and Schmidt, now 28, was cleared to play golf again. He applied for, and was granted, amateur status with the USGA. It allowed him to compete in USGA-sanctioned events in the Pacific Northwest.

But earlier this year, Schmidt publicized his ``Million Dollar Challenge'' to anyone to could beat him at 72 holes of golf and several poker hands.

The USGA revoked his status, claiming that the golf-poker challenge violated a rule aimed at actions ``detrimental to the best interests of the amateur game,'' and another related to gambling and the spirit of the rules.

Schmidt claimed that because no one took him up on it, it was moot.

While the USGA allows him to appeal the decision, Schmidt claimed the process was not timely enough for him to compete in events over the summer that he had already paid registration fees for.

Representing himself in court on Monday, Schmidt made an emotional appeal, borrowing from amateur great Bobby Jones: ``There is golf and there is competitive golf and the two are entirely different things.''

Schmidt said he entered an inferred or implied contract with the USGA when he applied for his amateur status and paid a $125 fee.

But Lee Abrams, an attorney representing the USGA, claimed that any contract was essentially completed when Schmidt was granted his amateur status.

Mosman, while prefacing his ruling by saying `a part of my heart always roots for the underdog,'' turned down the request because Schmidt's status did not meet the legal threshold of a contract.

Schmidt is proceeding with an appeal of his status through the USGA. He could also pursue other aspects of his legal complaint, but he said Monday he has not decided if he will do that.

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