Marino's career peaking at right time

MADISON - David Marino signed with Ole Miss before Ernest Ross was named head coach. Both have been an important part of the rise of the program the past four seasons.

The Rhode Island native arrived at Ole Miss in the fall of 2004 just as Ross was entering his second tenure as men's golf coach. Together, along with fifth-year senior Kyle Ellis, Marino and Ross have been through all the ups and downs of rebuilding a golf program to its current competitive level.

"As a senior, Dave's made his biggest step yet," said Ross, mentioning Marino's most recent finishes - sixth at the Florida State tourney and third at their last tourney in Georgia, won by the Rebels. "He's comfortable out there and he's putting the ball better. I consider him to be one of the top 10 players in the SEC."

It hasn't been without work and commitment on Marino's part. He's put in the hours and the effort to get to this level of play.

"I practice with more purpose now," Marino said. "I'm not completely satisfied with everything, but I also try not to put pressure on myself about it. Mentally I'm better and I'm relaxed and focused. Hopefully I can keep it going."

As a team the Rebels have had a solid year. They won three tournaments in the fall and then added the Linger-Longer tourney title in Georgia two weeks ago.

The Rebels became just the third team in Ole Miss men's golf history to win at least four tournaments in a year. The 1983-84 team won six tournaments (including the SEC Championships), and the 1984-85 team captured four titles and finished fourth in the NCAAs at year's end. Both those teams were in Ross' first tenure as head coach.

Marino said he didn't know what to expect when he got to Ole Miss as far as the coaching situation. But he'd heard of the success Ross had during his first time around, and he knew things would be good.

"He's a very good coach, very passionate about the game and his program and school," Marino said. "He's a great recruiter and he brings in guys who are passionate as well and really care about the game. You can see that in the improvement we've made as a program."

Marino also credits assistant coach Jonathan Dismuke, a Calhoun City native and former All-SEC golfer at Auburn, with lifting the players' games.

"Like Coach Ross, he brings so much to the table," Marino said. "They've both been there before, and they know what it takes to compete and win at this level."

The Bank of America Intercollegiate at the Reunion Golf and Country Club here in Madison is the next step for the Rebels. After that it's the SEC Tournament in St. Simon's Island, Georgia.

"We're really happy to be hosting a tournament," Marino said. "This is another positive step for the program. We've been pretty successful as a team lately, and we hope that continues this week and at the SEC Tournament."

The Rebels and the other 14 teams in the field are playing 36 holes today. Tomorrow's final round begins at 8 a.m. with an 18-hole finish.

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