Marino's eagle highlights Fairfax native's opening round in first Masters

Phil Mickelson blisters Augusta National with back-to-back 67s on the weekend to beat Lee Westwood by three strokes for his third Masters title.
By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 9, 2010

AUGUSTA, GA. -- Steve Marino's second hole ever in competition at the Masters will be one he'll remember: Drive it in the right trees, lay up to about 75 yards short of the pin on the downhill par 5, flop a lob wedge onto the green. A couple bounces later, the ball plopped in the hole and he had an eagle.

"Pretty cool," he said.

Last summer, when Marino played the British Open for the first time, he shared the 36-hole lead with none other than Tom Watson. Thursday, he didn't get a share of the lead in his first Masters, but he was right there for much of the day. The Fairfax native and University of Virginia grad shot a 1-under-par 71 that left him five back of Fred Couples -- and four back of a group that included Watson -- despite a double bogey at the 18th.

"Not a good way to finish, but I was really happy," Marino said. "Under par for your first round at the Masters? I'll take it."

Marino, 30, has two top-five finishes this season. Thursday, he got to 3 under with a birdie at the sixth, gave that back with his only bogey of the day at the 11th, then birdied the par 5 13th. For a time, as he made the turn, he was alone atop the leader board.

But his drive on the 18th was left of the fairway, and he had to punch out. He then hit a poor approach into the gallery left of the green, and couldn't get up-and-down for bogey.

Nike ad sparks debate

The ad that Nike debuted this week -- featuring Tiger Woods's face, and the haunting voice of his late father asking, among other things, "What have you learned?" -- was widely debated Thursday. Woods called it "apropos," even though he is loath to discuss specifics of the sex scandal that drove him from the game for nearly five months.

"It's amazing how my dad can speak to me from different ways, even when he's long gone," Woods said. "He's still helping me."

Woods said he had spoken with Masters chairman Billy Payne, who criticized Woods's behavior in an address to the media Wednesday. His reaction to Payne's remarks: "I was disappointed in myself, too."

Mickelson's auspicious start

In a normal year, Phil Mickelson's opening 67 would have been one of the highlights of the first round. Mickelson's last nine appearances at Augusta National have included seven top-five finishes, including his two wins, and he appears poised.

He used a 30-foot eagle putt on 13 to spark his round, then followed that with back-to-back birdies to get to 5 under. He might have joined Fred Couples in the lead, but he missed a slippery three-footer for birdie at 18.

"There's just something about this place that when I get on the golf course, I don't feel like I have to be perfect," he said. "It relaxes me. I'm able to free up my swing and let my short game save me if I make a couple of bad shots."

Kim's wild ride to 68

Anthony Kim, who won the Houston Open over the weekend despite a balky driver, characteristically had the wildest ride to contention Thursday.

Kim not only made par from a cart path on the second hole, but he got to 3-under at the turn, gave it all back with three straight bogeys to start the back nine, made an eagle at 13 to get to 2 under, bogeyed 14 -- then closed with three straight birdies. The math, in the end, came out to a 68.

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