Fairfax's Steve Marino Salvages 76 With Two Late Birdies

The 138th British Open, played at Turnberry in South Ayrshire, Scotland.
By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 19, 2009

TURNBERRY, Scotland, July 18 -- When Saturday morning dawned back home in Fairfax, Fran and Steve Marino's son was tied for the lead in the British Open, about to play the third round with Tom Watson, an epic event. Fran's response: Fret, pace, worry.

"If he does fabulous," she said by phone, "they'll probably have to hospitalize me."

Steve's response: Keep the 11:30 a.m. match he had scheduled for himself at Belle Haven Country Club in Alexandria.

"That's why we have a DVR," Steve Marino said.

Whenever they watched, what the Marinos saw from their 29-year-old son, Steve -- the University of Virginia grad who is playing his first British Open -- could have been distressing early on, but was, in the end, encouraging. The younger Marino, after a 6-over-par 76 Saturday, is at 1 over for the tournament, five shots back of Watson's unlikely lead.

But it is the manner in which Marino got to that point -- stumbling badly on the front nine, righting himself, stumbling even more dramatically on the 15th and 16th holes, and then coming back again -- that will make Saturday such a memorable experience.

"I'm really proud of the way I responded," Marino said. "That could have gotten real ugly, real quick."

Here, then, is the tale of Marino's day: He played himself out of the tournament with a bogey at the second, another at the third, another at the fourth, and a double at the fifth. Goodbye, 5 under. Hello, even par.

Marino, somewhere and somehow, needed to exhale. He was able to do so when he holed a tricky par putt on the sixth, one that curled around about 270 degrees of the cup's rim before dropping. He then proceeded to play himself back into the tournament by striping a 3-iron from 227 yards within 18 inches of the cup on the par-5 seventh, an eagle that pointed him in the other direction. Through 14 holes, he was steady and 2 under for the tournament when the lead was just a shot better.

And then, 15 and 16.

"It was just crazy," Marino said. "I was going along so great, and then all of a sudden, it was like, 'Bam!' I'm like 8 over on the round."

Before discussing those holes, it's worth noting that Marino, at some point, expected to be in such a position, contending in a major on the weekend. Perhaps not this week, because he made the British Open field as an alternate only after another player withdrew, and he had never before played links golf. But some day.

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