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Marino hits cool stride in the wind

STEVE Marino surged into contention at the British Open with a two-under 68 yesterday, an impressive score on a day when the weather sent numbers soaring.

After pristine conditions in the opening round, Turnberry showed its teeth yesterday -- a cool, damp day with the wind whipping off the Irish Sea.

Marino, a 29-year-old American who plays on the PGA Tour, overcame four bogeys with four birdies and an eagle-three at No. 17 to get his score to five-under 135.

Marino claimed the lead while most everyone else surrendered ground to the breezes whipping off the Firth of Clyde. Tiger Woods was just hanging on, still at one-over as he approached the turn and showing no signs of making a move.

Fifty-nine-year-old Tom Watson, the star of Day 1, followed a bogey-free 65 with bogeys on five of the first seven holes -- including four in a row. But just when it seemed he was fading away, the five-time Open champion bounced back with two birdies around the turn, leaving him just two strokes back.

Mark Calcavecchia joined Watson in representing the old-timers. The 49-year-old American has put together two solid rounds on the 20th anniversary of his Open triumph right up the road in Troon, shooting 67-69 to get within a shot of Marino.

The obscure American, who struggled for years to earn his PGA Tour card, got in as an alternate though he was forced to improvise to make it happen.

"I didn't have a passport," Marino said. "I had to fly my dad down to Florida so he could get my passport and FedEx it to me. I wasn't even expecting to play in this tournament."

His father dashed down to Florida from his home in Virginia, sent along the passport to his son playing in the John Deere Classic and flew back -- all in the same day. When Shingo Katayama withdrew from the Open last weekend because of an injury, Marino received the spot.

For most, this was a day for surviving.

First-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez struggled to a 73 but wasn't too upset about it. The ponytailed, cigar-smoking Spaniard got off to a grisly start -- a four-over 39 on the front -- but he held it together and joined the pack at 137.

"I'm pleased the way I finished, not very pleased with the way I started," Jimenez said. "You need to put it on the fairways, and I started missing the fairways for a little bit."

Kenichi Kuboya had the lead for a while, but lost it -- along with his ball -- when an errant tee shot at No. 13 led to double bogey. But a 72 kept the Japanese golfer solidly in contention among that crowded group at 137, which also included Ross Fisher (68) and Retief Goosen (70).

John Daly, who won at St Andrews in 1995, made it to an Open weekend for the first time in four years when a 72 left him at 140.

Two-time defending champion Padraig Harrington will need a big comeback to make it three in a row, struggling to a 74 that dropped him to 143.


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