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Steve Marino
Steve Marino can't wait for the opportunity to play with a legend like Tom Watson in the final group of a major on Saturday. (Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Weekend goals similar, but very different, for co-leaders

They're both looking to make history, but their chapters would be very disparate. Steve Marino seeks his first PGA Tour win, while Tom Watson wants to rewrite the Open record book.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents

TURNBERRY, Scotland -- The bookies in the betting parlors in the United Kingdom will accept a wager on just about anything.

So what kind of odds do you think you’ve get that the man with the initials TW at the top of the leaderboard at the midway point of the Open Championship would be Tom Watson rather than Tiger Woods? 

And who in their right mind would have bet that the other TW, the one who happens to be the No. 1 player in the world, wouldn’t even be around for the weekend to see whether Watson can become the game’s oldest major champion?

Maybe “The Amazing Kreskin” --  but not too many of the “punters,” as they call gamblers on this side of the pond.

So the 59-year-old Watson has defied logic and added to his lore, entering the weekend at Turnberry with a share of the lead at 5 under. And Woods, after a 74, was probably wheels up in his private jet before the final putts were struck at nearly 10 p.m.

The missed cut was just Woods’ second in a major championship and only the fifth since he turned pro in 1996. He needed to take a page from Watson’s book as the patient veteran played his first seven holes in 4 over but finished even to get back into the hunt.

Sharing the top spot with the five-time Open champion is Steve Marino, who had never played a links course before he got to Turnberry on Monday morning. In fact, he had to send his father to fetch his passport when he found out he was the first alternate last week.

And while Watson’s experience has eclipsed his age this week, the eight-time major winner knows everyone has to start somewhere.

“Well, I never played links golf before I played Carnoustie in 1975, and it turned out pretty good for me there,” he said with a knowing smile and a nod toward history.

The 29-year-old Marino has only played with Watson once, and that was during a practice round at Pebble Beach several years ago. He grew up watching the Hall of Famer, though, and is anxious for the opportunity ahead.

“It’s super exciting for me to get a chance to play with him in the final group on Saturday at the Open Championship,” Marino said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Marino understands the dichotomy of their two situations. He’s looking for his first PGA TOUR win. Watson, who is 48 days shy of his 60th birthday, hopes to make a different kind of history and author a chapter that would rival his rival Jack Nicklaus’ magical win in the 1986 Masters.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Marino acknowledged. “He’s won the Open five times and here he is leading the tournament again at the age of 59. Me, on the other hand; I’ve never won on TOUR. Talk about two opposite ends of the spectrum.”

At the same time, though, Marino has established himself as one of the game’s up-and-comers. He lost to Steve Stricker in a playoff earlier this year and has 13 top-10 finishes in just over two and a half years on TOUR.

“He's a great kid and has a ton of talent,” said Mark Calcavecchia, the 1989 Open champ who trails Watson and Marino by one stroke.  He's really kind of figured it out in the last couple of years. 

“He hits it far, really doesn't have any weaknesses in the game that I've seen the few times that I've played with him.  It's great to see him playing well.  It's just a matter of time before he wins.”

Whether it will be Sunday remains to be seen. The course Watson called “Lady Turnberry” will certainly have something to say about that, as will a leaderboard that features five major winners within four strokes of the lead.

“Tom's performance is fantastic, but it just shows you how much keeping yourself in shape and how much having played a lot of links golf can help you,” said Englishman Lee Westwood, who is three shots off the pace, much to the delight of the home crowd.

“And it shows you what a good golf course this is, because it's not a bomber's golf course where you can, you know, hit 360 yard drives and beat it to bits. 

“It's very much a position golf course, and it's almost like a game of chess out there.”

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