Marino makes most of opportunity

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The Independent Online

American Steve Marino, who had to use his father as a passport courier to take up his place in the Open, today set the early clubhouse target at Turnberry as the course exacted a measure of revenge on the world's best players.

Marino began the day three off the lead held by Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, the 45-year-old having equalled the lowest first round in Open history with his 64 yesterday.

But as Jimenez and many others failed to cope with a strong wind on the Ayrshire links, Open debutant Marino carded a second round of 68 for a five-under-par halfway total of 135.

Marino was originally third reserve for the championship and only received a call-up on Sunday, by which time he had dispatched his father from Virginia to Florida to collect his passport and post it to Illinois, where he was playing in the John Deere Classic.

"I replaced Shingo Katayama and I found out Sunday morning," explained Marino, who holed out from 116 yards for birdie on the third, holed a bunker shot on the sixth for another and eagled the 17th.

"I was at the John Deere. I didn't have any warm clothes. I didn't have a passport. I had to fly my dad to my house in Florida so he could get my passport and FedEx it to me at the John Deere. He left Friday morning and flew back Friday night!

"I wasn't even expecting to play in this tournament. I didn't think I was going to be an alternate, let alone be playing. So when I found out I got in, I was super excited."

Marino admitted this week was his first experience of links golf.

The 29-year-old from Oklahoma added: "I'm just really looking forward to playing golf here the next few days.

"I've really enjoyed myself here, I love the golf course. I love the challenge that it presents. You have to drive it straight, and most importantly, you have to stay patient and stay positive out there, because once you start getting down on yourself and thinking negatively, it will go bad really quick.

"I've played four links rounds ever, two practise rounds and then the first two rounds. They have links courses in the States, but I wouldn't really call them links - it's not like it is over here.

"But it's awesome, I'm really just enjoying it and having fun. I'm just having a blast."

Out on the course, five-time champion Tom Watson was alongside Marino on five under after three holes of his round, with Japan's Kenichi Kuboya and American Steve Stricker also sharing the lead after 10 and four holes respectively.

Overnight leader Jimenez was two shots back on three under after an inward nine of 34 helped him salvage a round of 73, England's Ross Fisher and South African Retief Goosen also on the same mark.

Fisher, who is ready to pull out of the event at any minute if his wife Jo goes into labour, birdied three of the last four holes for a 68, while former US Open champion Goosen recorded a 70.

Such scoring was rare on a day made tricky by a stiff breeze, 2003 champion Ben Curtis starting the day one off the lead but slumping to an 80 which included eight bogeys and two double bogeys.

Playing partner Mike Weir was also five over after a round of 78, most of the damage done by an eight on the par-five seventh, which had been the easiest hole on the course yesterday.

And Japan's Tomohiro Kondo carded a round of 79 which included a double-bogey six on the 10th where he played his second shot from the beach to the left of the fairway.