May 27 2010
Looks like Steve Marino will have another big gallery at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
His mother grew up two blocks from Colonial Country Club and his second-place finish in last year's tournament brought friends and family out in droves. He ended up tied for second with Tim Clark after losing to Steve Stricker in a playoff.
"I really wasn't thinking about being in contention until after I shot 62 on Saturday and all of a sudden I just leap-frogged everybody," Marino recalled earlier this week. "... Sunday was just awesome. I played great. I hit the ball great. I had a lot of putts that almost went in but didn't. It was just real exciting.
"I was glancing over every now and then seeing my parents, that made me feel really good. Unfortunately, I didn't win but I did really well and I was really proud of the way I hung in there and handled myself."
Marino quietly climbed the leaderboard again on Thursday. He just finished off a 68 – his sixth straight sub-70 round at Colonial -- and is six strokes off the pace being set by Jason Bohn.
Marino, who is looking for his first PGA TOUR victory, has improved each time he played at Colonial. The UVa product tied for 24th in his first start in 2007 and has shared 10th and second the last two years.
"I think a lot of holes where guys are laying back off the tee with irons and fairway woods, I go ahead and hit the driver," Marino said. "If I'm hitting it well, which I've been every time I've been here, it's a huge advantage because I'm coming into holes with wedges where they're coming in with maybe 5-, 6-irons.
"That's purely what's been key for me here is driving the ball real well."
Marino's ball-striking hasn't been quite as solid this year as he would like and he’s only had two top-10s among his six finishes of 20th or better. But he hit 8 or 14 fairways and all but five greens on Thursday.
A win on Sunday would be a popular one.
"It's pretty much the only thing that I haven't done so far in my short career," Marino said. "I'm in all of the majors this year via my Top-30 FedEx(Cup) finish, so pretty much I'm trying to just get better every day and hopefully find myself in the winner circle some time this year."