Steve Marino (Col ’02) chased a spot on the PGA Tour for four years. The chase suited him well, to hear Marino tell it.
“I played for three years on the so-called mini-tours, then last year I played on the Nationwide Tour—and that was a big plus for me to get out there last year and play and be competitive,” says Marino, who finally earned his PGA Tour card for 2006 with an impressive eighth-place showing in the grueling PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. His promotion came on the heels of a strong season on the Nationwide Tour—the level just below the PGA Tour—where last year he made 16 of 20 cuts and racked up $134,038 in tournament earnings.
“There’s just a fine line that separates the best on the Nationwide Tour from the PGA Tour,” Marino says. “I think playing that tour last year and getting that experience and traveling around and playing in tournaments that are set up like PGA tournaments, was a big, big help to me.”
Marino has carried over his success in ’06 to the big tour in ’07, finishing in a tie for 20th in a strong field at the Buick Invitational in January and earning his first PGA Tour top-10 finish by placing eighth at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in February. He was also in contention early at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, when a first-round 67 put his name on a leader board that also featured Tour heavies Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and eventual champ Vijay Singh.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t really bring my ‘A’ game to the weekend and struggled a little bit. But that’s something that I can learn from and try to be better prepared for in the future when I’m in a situation like that,” Marino says.
While Marino says his focus this year is on continuing to improve his game and retaining his PGA Tour card, he’s also allowing himself to dream of bigger things.
“I’d like to find myself in serious contention to win a tournament late on a Sunday afternoon,” he says. “I want to get a taste of that and see what that’s like.”