ORLANDO, Fla. -- Not only were Spencer Levin and Steve Marino sharing space at or near the top of the leader board at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, they played the first two rounds together and are good friends, occasionally sharing space in rental houses at tournaments, too, though not this week in Orlando.
At eight under par, Levin was one shot off Martin Laird's halfway lead, largely on the strength of an opening round six-under 66 in winds that were gusting over 30 miles an hour. Marino was two shots further back, tied for fourth, but couldn't hide his admiration for his playing partner. "His putting is just unbelievable," said Marino after Friday's round. "Yesterday, that round of golf was, I don't know if they ever do like a Top 10 Rounds of the Year or whatever, but that one should be in the Top 10 for sure. He made almost everything he looked at and just played awesome. And then, today, on the front nine, he made a bunch of long putts for birdies and some putts for par. I've never really seen anyone putt like that for two days."
Levin wasn't able to cobble together the kind of round on Friday he managed in far tougher conditions Thursday but still got around in a respectable two-under 70. "I didn't play well today," he said afterward. "I got a couple of good breaks, made some nice putts, so overall, it was a good score for how I played." Levin's caddie, Mike Hicks, who was a familiar face on Payne Stewart's bag for three major championships, also carried Spencer's father, Don's, clubs a dozen or so times back in the old Monday qualifying days in the early '80's. In fact, it was through Don that Hicks and Spencer teamed up. The elder Levin, the only teacher Spencer has ever known, was in Orlando, too. "I got my dad here this week," he said after Friday's round. "He comes out every once in awhile. So, he will probably help me out a little bit on the range. Hopefully, I can get it sharpened up and play a little more solid this weekend than I did today."
-- Jim Moriarty