Steve Marino knows what it’s like to finish runner-up. For the fourth time in his career and the second this season, Marino came up just short of his first victory on the PGA Tour, suffering a one-shot loss to Martin Laird at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
This one at Bay Hill might hurt a little more. He lost three strokes on plugged lies in bunkers on No. 15 and No. 17. And to win a golf tournament, you need the right breaks at the right time.
If he could go back, he would replay the the 17th, where he made double-bogey.
“I hit it really good,” said Marino of his 5-iron into the green. “I thought it was going to be good, and came up short in the bunker and then plugged.
“Really, (the shot out of the sand) was probably about as good as I could do was hit it to where I did and I just got a little aggressive with the par putt. Just hit a terrible next putt…That’s pretty disappointing. I played so well all day, and just, you know, one hiccup on 17 cost me the tournament.”
His caddie GW Cable explained afterward, “When it’s windy like this and you have such long irons into the greens, it’s just so hard. You have to play for the front of the greens and the room for error is so small. Like on 17, we’re trying to hit it in the gap and try to chase it in there — almost to the back bunker.”
Marino followed the mistake with two beautiful shots, including his aggressive approach on the tucked pin over water on 18.
“Let’s go for it and birdie,” said GW. “It was sick.”
With a pitching wedge from 144 yards, Marino stuck it to eight feet and made the putt to give himself a chance.
“I’m pretty disappointed right now,” said Marino in his post-round presser. “I felt like I just played so well all day, and just a couple bad breaks and one bad shot was all it took to kind of take me out of it.”
He placed second to Mark Wilson at the Sony Open, his first start this year. And then at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he held the lead going into the final round, but couldn’t muster the same magic as D.A. Points on the back nine. When it was obvious he couldn’t win, Marino threw away a few strokes on 18, posting a triple-bogey to drop to a tie for fourth.
After the second round at Bay Hill, he talked about every shot being so precious, and the other times when he’s been in contention, he felt he left one or two out there. Same story this Sunday.
“You just cannot afford to piss away shots in the final round — really, at any point in the tournament — if you want to win the tournament,” said Marino. “Unfortunately on 17, that’s exactly what I did. It came back to bite me.”
Of course, if you miss it in the bunker, there should be a penalty, but how much is fair?
Stewart Cink, who finished T12, tweeted on Sunday night, “Hate to see a tournament decided by golf balls plugging in bunkers.”
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)