When Mike Mitchell said after the semifinals of the Washington Metropolitan Golf Association men's amateur that he had been saving up his birdies, he wasn't kidding. Mitchell defeated Steve Marino, 5 and 4, in the 36-hole final yesterday at Westwood Country Club in Vienna to win the championship.
Mitchell, a 19-year-old University of Virginia junior who, along with Marino, plays on the golf team, made 11 birdies -- seven over the final 14 holes -- to win the 81st WMGA men's amateur title, which is one of the oldest men's amateur tournaments in the country.
"I play him a lot down at school," Mitchell said. "He makes a lot of birdies. I knew I was going to have to make a lot of birdies."
Marino, who was hoping to become the first golfer to win the Virginia State Golf Association amateur title and the WMGA title in the same year, played well, but not well enough to beat Mitchell, who blistered the final 14 holes.
"It's frustrating to get beat that bad, especially when I wasn't playing that bad," said Marino, a 19-year-old sophomore.
Mitchell finished the first 18 holes 1-up, then birdied six of the next nine holes. Had the tournament been stroke-play, Mitchell would have been 6 under with a 30; as it was, he was 5-up on Marino.
Marino had two birdies and no bogeys -- 2 under par -- during Mitchell's remarkable run.
"He just played phenomenal, phenomenal golf," Marino said.
Mitchell had one bogey in the final round to Marino's three. Marino did not bogey a hole after making an eagle on No. 11 during the first round. After his second shot went into the left rough, Marino hit a sand wedge that dropped the ball 15 feet from the pin. It then rolled the rest of the way before dropping into the hole.
"I don't think either of us felt any pressure," said Mitchell, who plays in today's Maryland Open at Hillendale. "It just felt like a round down at school. It was a lot of fun."