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July 3, 2008

Steve Marino


NELSON SILVERIO: Steve, thanks for spending a few minutes with us here in the interview room, 5-under, currently leading. How was the day?
STEVE MARINO: It was a great day. Started off well with a birdie on 1, and had another tap-in birdie on 3 and kind of made a snake on 4, and after that, I just played solid, two more birdies, no bogeys. It was a great day.

Q. Outside you said that you changed your equipment and you're changing a few things. Tell us what's going on there.
STEVE MARINO: Yeah, I've been struggling with my irons a little bit, and I put a new set of irons on the bag, and a new set of wedges, also, and I just put them in on Tuesday afternoon, so this was the first round of golf that I had played with them, and I think they are going to stay.

Q. What was the problem with the other ones?
STEVE MARINO: You know, I haven't been hitting the ball that well and sometimes you just need to just change a little bit, just change what you're looking at. You know, I was on the range on Tuesday hitting some with the new ones and some with the old ones and they seem to be going much better, so it was pretty much a no-brainer for me.

Q. From what to what?
STEVE MARINO: I was using the Cleveland CG1 Micro Mill Blade and they have a new blade, CG Tour. They look exactly the same. I think they said they are a little bit smaller and a little bit more off-set. All I care about is they are going better.

Q. Is it good to start off well, being a UVA graduate, and have you played in this area a lot when you were in Charlottesville?
STEVE MARINO: Yeah, I actually grew up in Fairfax right down the road. I played a bunch of junior golf growing up here, all over the D.C. area. So it feels great to get off to this good start, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the week.

Q. So do you have a band following you around of people you knew back when?
STEVE MARINO: Yeah, my family still lives in Fairfax here, a bunch of buddies of mine I went to high school with, and some friends of mine from college that live up here now. I can't wait to see what it's going to be like tomorrow afternoon on July 4th.

Q. How do you think the course is playing today, and when you went out today, do you feel like minus five was something that was attainable?
STEVE MARINO: Yeah, I never thought about the score today. The course is playing a little bit easier than last year. I think the rough is probably half as tall as it was last year. The rough last year was just unbelievable.
So it gives you some leeway, if you miss the fairway sometimes you can hit it on the green, or at least advance it somewhere up around the green where you can get it up-and-down.
And this morning, the course was just -- there was very little wind, the greens were perfect, and soft, so you could really throw some iron shots in there. I'm sure it will probably be playing a little bit more difficult this afternoon, and the greens will probably get a little bumpy with everybody walking on them. As far as the course goes, I think it's in great shape and a little bit better than it was last year.

Q. Most golfers don't just walk on to the PGA Tour and they go through the things that you have gone through to get here, could you talk about that, the process that got you here?
STEVE MARINO: I graduated UVA in 2002, played the Canadian Tour in 2003 and for a little bit in 2004. Played the Golden Bear Tour in summer of 2004, and played the Gateway Tour in 2005, so I guess that's, what, three years?
And then in 2006, I played the Gateway Winter Series in Florida and tried my shot at Monday qualifying for the Nationwide Tour. And it took me three or four events to actually get into a tournament; and when I did, I think I finished 10th in Richmond and they have a deal where if you finish Top-25 you get into the next week.
And I kept doing that, and if I didn't finish Top-25, I had to Monday qualify, and so I earned my status on the Nationwide Tour that way and after that I made it through Q-School and last year was my rookie year out here.

Q. Not a lot of people really consider you sort of the local guy out there; does that disturb you or is that something you even think about?
STEVE MARINO: No, I mean, to be honest with you, that never really crosses my mind. I went to high school in Fairfax and I went to UVA. If they don't consider me a hometown guy, it doesn't bother me at all. I grew up here, but no, you can't worry about that.

Q. Just being from around here, did you get to play Congressional when you were coming up? Were there tournaments that could get you on here or was it new last year?
STEVE MARINO: I think I actually only played it once or twice when I was 14, and played it one other time. I never played in a junior tournament at Congressional growing up around here, no.

Q. Did you come to the old Kemper Opens and those things?
STEVE MARINO: I never came to the Kemper Open when it was here at Congressional. I went at Avenal, but I came to the U.S. Open when they had it here in '97.

Q. You were hoping to get a sponsor's exemption in 2005 but didn't get one; is that right?
STEVE MARINO: Yeah, I wrote a letter to try to get a sponsor exemption and I guess it was the Booz Allen, but it's hard. There are so many guys that write for a sponsor's exemption. I wasn't really expecting to get one anyway.

Q. Could you talk about that event that you entered into Nevada where your team had to put up a $100,000; was that scary at that point to think you would not see the money again?
STEVE MARINO: My buddy and I, he actually had some friends that put up the money for us, it was a group of about five or six guys from Indiana, and they put up the money for us. At that point in my life I don't know if I would have had the 50 grand to throw down on that and I don't know if I would have felt real comfortable doing that even if I did.

Q. What was in it for them?
STEVE MARINO: We signed a contract with them and there was a percentage breakdown, I think if you won two matches. That was in 2005 I think.

Q. Can you maybe describe the louder parts of your gallery and maybe how they compared to some other galleries?
STEVE MARINO: Yeah, I got some crazy friends that came out to watch me this week and today, I think it's safe to say it was probably going to be the mildest day, especially if I keep playing well.
I know tomorrow is July 4th, and I'm teeing off in the afternoon; so that gives them plenty of time for them to get looped up for tomorrow. But yeah, they are rowdy, but it definitely feels good to have them out there supporting me, and it's fun. I mean, when you have got people out there yelling and screaming, it kind of takes your mind off things, and makes you laugh a little bit.

Q. Any way you can compare the overall atmosphere and the galleries all-around this year to last year?
STEVE MARINO: In this tournament? You know, I think I've noticed maybe a little bit of a drop off, so it's Thursday morning, it's tough to tell, but I'd have to assume that's because Tiger is not here that there's not going to be as many people here watching.

Q. Who is your caddie and is he a local guy or somebody you met on TOUR?
STEVE MARINO: No, he's a local guy, he's actually a good friend of mine. We grew up playing junior golf together and our parents belonged to the same Country Club of Fairfax. His name is GW Cable, and he's been living down in Florida trying to play a little bit, but he's been hurt and he's been living over in Sarasota.
So I wanted to change it up and try a new caddie so I gave him a call, figured I would get him out of the cart barn, so he wouldn't have to wash carts for a couple weeks and get him out here and carry my bag and it worked out real well.

Q. If this score holds up this afternoon, it will be your first first-round lead; thoughts about that?
STEVE MARINO: No, not really. There's a long way to go. 54 holes left, you know, how many times do you see the guy that's leading the first round -- I would say probably the majority of the time, they don't go onto win the tournament.
So you can't put any added pressure on yourself. You've just to go out and try to keep doing what you've been doing and if you play well, then you keep yourself near that lead or in the lead. The tournament really doesn't begin pretty much until the back nine on Sunday if you want to win.

Q. When Fred Funk came off his final hole, he made a tongue-in-cheek comment about yeah, now it's Maryland against Virginia, pitted battle, North Against South, Civil War; won't that be great for you and fans of this area to have this kind of show down for the next four days?
STEVE MARINO: Absolutely. I think if that was the case, you know, if we were paired together in the last group and all of a sudden leading on Sunday you might get some more fans to come out.
But yeah, that will definitely be pretty fun. I like Fred, he's a good guy but we'll see. Hopefully both of us can stay up there the rest of the week.
NELSON SILVERIO: All right, Steve, thanks very much.

End of FastScripts

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