Scott Marino had played one round of tournament golf this summer before last week's 86th annual Washington Metropolitan Golf Association amateur championship, and that was the Virginia State Amateur qualifier, in which he missed the cut by two strokes.
But last week, the intense work Marino, 18, has put into his game began to pay off -- perhaps quicker than could have been expected.
The recent W.T. Woodson graduate, who plays out of the Country Club of Fairfax, reached the final of the WMGA amateur, one of the oldest men's amateur tournaments in the country. On July 8 at Old South Country Club in Lothian, Md., he shot a 2-over-par 74 to qualify for the accomplished 32-man field. He then won two matches both Friday and Saturday before falling to former professional Mike Mitchell, 5 and 4, in the 36-hole championship. Mitchell, who won the 1999 WMGA amateur by defeating Marino's brother, Steve, by the same score, played on the Canadian Tour in 2002 and was nearly flawless Sunday, making just one bogey in 32 holes.
"This is my second tournament of the summer, so I'm definitely happy with this," Scott Marino said. "I wish I could have won, but [Mitchell] just had fewer mistakes. [He made] 26 pars, five birdies and a bogey, that's pretty tough to beat. But, I mean, he's a former pro and I can hang with him a little bit."
More than a little bit.
Due to traffic that was heavier than expected, Marino got to the course on Sunday later than he had the previous three days. He did not go through his normal routine, and that was apparent early. Marino found himself 3 down through the first three holes of the tournament after a double bogey on the par-5 first hole and a pair of bogies on the next two.
"I don't think I was really in my rhythm the first three holes," Marino said. "My routine was a bit different, we got [to the course] a bit late because of traffic. I really didn't feel comfortable for probably the first four holes."
Still, Marino did not give up and gamely fought back, cutting Mitchell's lead to two three separate times, including on the 21st hole when he rolled in a birdie putt on No. 3, a 194-yard par-3.
"Being 3 down so quickly really didn't bother me, I was more just annoyed," Marino said. "I just tried to make some good shots and make some birdies."
Marino did, playing the first 11 holes of the second 18 in 3-under-par. Unfortunately for Marino, Mitchell was equal to the task. The two-time All-Met, who played at the University of Virginia with Steve Marino, also played those holes in 3-under-par to hold on to his advantage. Every time Marino hit a good shot, Mitchell would answer.
"I hit some good shots," said Marino, who will play for James Madison University. "He just hit it on top of me."
Marino was not able to rest after the tournament. He headed with his family to West Virginia to caddy for his older brother, Steve, who is playing professionally.
Olde Town FC Wins Title
The Women's Foil Team from the Olde Town Fencing Club of Alexandria won the team title at the U.S. Fencing Association Summer National Championships held recently in Charlotte. The team of Diane Ferguson, Jun Liang-Smith, Sicilia Chinn and Sofia Wicker defeated the Chicago Athletic Association team, 45-44, in a thrilling final.
Liang-Smith, a two-time Olympian from China and a former assistant fencing coach, won the final points in the championship round. She also helped cap a comeback in the semifinals.
Swimming and Diving Wrap
Chesterbrook Beats Tuckahoe: Chesterbrook's swim team won its 22nd consecutive meet, defeating Tuckahoe, 220-182, in a Northern Virginia Swim League match-up. With the victory, Chesterbrook improved to 3-0, while Tuckahoe fell to 1-2.
Four Chesterbrook swimmers won two events: Jake Huber (boys' 8-and-under 25-meter freestyle and 25 backstroke), Cyrus Hashemi (boys' 9-10 50 freestyle and 25 butterfly), David Hahn (boys' 15-18 50 backstroke and 50 butterfly) and Alston Offutt (girls' 8-and-under 20 freestyle and 25 backstroke).
Herndon Wins: The Herndon Pinecrest Piranha Swim Team (NVSL Division 5) defeated Centreville Sully Station 2, 244-158, thanks to eight double-event winners: Danielle Hale, Shannon Lane, Allison Skowronski, Matthew Skowronski, Dylan Hale, Brian Phillips, Ryan Gillooly and Michael Piantedosi.
Oakton Downs Hamlet: At the third meet of the Northern Virginia Swimming League Division 2 season, Oakton Swim and Racquet Club defeated Hamlet, 221-181. The Otters had four double winners -- Kevin Burke won the 50-meter freestyle and 50 butterfly in the boys' 13-14 division, Allison Smith won the 25 backstroke and 25 breaststroke in the girls' 8-and-under division; Kaitlyn Power won the 50 freestyle and 50 breaststroke in the girls' 9-10 division; and Erica Wohlleben won the 50 freestyle and 50 backstroke in the girls' 11-12 division.
Squids Still Unbeaten: The Fort Myer Squids of the Colonial League improved to 3-0 on the season with a 293-123 victory over Kings Park West. The Squids won 27 of 40 stroke events, led by 7-year-old Christine Vincent, 11-year-old Eliza Phillips and 17-year-old Stephen Schneider, each of whom won three events.
Sting Rays beat Springfield: The River Bend Golf and Country Club Sting Rays defeated the Springfield Country Club swim team, 321-193, in a Dominion Country Club League meet.
Blue ribbons went to Julianne North, Alex Rock, Olivia Justus, Jessica Hawken, Michael Killmon, Cassidy Wolfe, Sam Bowman, Caitlin Allard, Erin Klein, Tim Creedon, Elspeth McGarry, Aaron Justus, Alyssa Shames, Sam Bowman, Jason Lewris, and Meaghan Alard.