Steve Marino Shoots a 68 in Third Round of AT&T National

Ex-University of Virginia player Steve Marino is at 4 under par heading into the final round of the AT& T National.
Ex-University of Virginia player Steve Marino is at 4 under par heading into the final round of the AT& T National. (By Joel Richardson -- For The Washington Post)
By Bill Oram
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 5, 2009

In case the bright orange shirt and corresponding blue trousers didn't give it away yesterday, a booming voice did, echoing across the 16th hole just moments behind an even more booming second shot from the rough:

"That's a Cavalier right there, folks!"

A handful of the fans in the gallery following Steve Marino, a Fairfax native and former University of Virginia player, clapped and chuckled. It was like that at Congressional Country Club for Marino and the family and friends on hand to see him improve to 4 under par going into the tournament's final day.

The Cavaliers' colors were a first for Marino, who made par on 16, and a hit with his followers.

"He's never done that before," said his mother, Fran Marino. "He's never worn that orange and blue before."

Marino said the orange shirt was new, and when he considered pairing them with the pants thought, "These are some nice Virginia colors."

Coming home certainly has its perks. Earlier in the week, before getting serious about the AT&T National, the 29-year-old Marino spent a few days at home with his family. After his 2-under 68 Saturday, Marino said he would return to a friend's house in Bethesda -- near the course and where he has stayed during the tournament -- have a couple of beers and a barbecue to celebrate the Fourth of July. A trip somewhere to see fireworks was also under consideration, even though Marino said he is not much into fireworks, especially if they're not live.

"I can't watch them on TV," he said.

But if Marino were to catch up to the leaders, he wouldn't be watching fireworks, he would be causing them. Marino was atop the leader board after the first day of the AT&T last summer and six shots off the lead at the end of yesterday. He said he would love to earn his first career win there.

"It would be awesome," he said. "It would mean the world. This is where I grew up. I grew up playing golf around here. And to do it in my home town, in front of my family and in front of all my friends . . . it doesn't get any better than that."

Marino started the tournament with a 73 but rallied with back-to-back strong rounds, shooting a 65 on Friday and then yesterday's 68. And he wasn't done after the final hole, either.

An hour after wrapping up his round, Marino was on the chipping green, working on his short game, even though it wasn't a problem for him yesterday.

"I work on it all the time," he said.

And though he's still winless in three years on the tour, Marino has been getting closer. He is 21st on the money list and has three top-10 finishes this season, including a near-win at Colonial last month when he lost to Steve Stricker in a three-way playoff.

That, too, would have been a fitting way to earn his first win. Fran Marino is from Fort Worth, and said she grew up "two blocks from the 15th hole" at Colonial. She said that while the crowd trailing Marino at Congressional is impressive, it pales in comparison to "Marino's Mob," which each year is etched in purple on hats of about 150 of Fran's friends from the area.

But the mob is just a Texas thing, so its members and its purple hats missed Marino's weekend homecoming. They wouldn't have fit in anyway. Purple isn't a Cavaliers color.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company