June 25, 1999
Several dozen golf fans didn’t care a bit about the steady drizzle and threatening clouds on Monday, June 25. They were too busy having fun watching PGA Tour Pro Mark O’Meara play Rehoboth Beach Country Club. Fourteen of the fans plunked down a hefty sum and played right along with O’Meara, in a scramble format.
The 1998 Masters and British Open winner came to Rehoboth for the benefit of the Delaware State Golf Association Scholarship Fund. JoJo Barrows, the club’s pro shop manager, said the outing earned over $24,500. A major portion came from pledges for each of the twelve birdies made during the round.
Naturally there’s a Cape Region connection to explain how O’Meara came to play in this fund-raiser.
Bob McCurry is a member of Rehoboth Country Club and lives here. He’s a former vice chairman for Toyota, and retired formally about three years ago. He continues to contribute to the company’s fortunes as an advisor to the current Toyota board.
O’Meara has had an endorsement deal with Toyota for many years, and McCurry is not shy about using his Toyota connections for the sake of the DSGA. For the last several years Toyota-sponsored professionals such as O’Meara, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Brad Faxon, and Raymond Floyd have played these Monday outings.
McCurry said with a smile that he really enjoys it personally when O’Meara comes to town, and it’s not just for the golf. It seems that McCurry’s household chores include window washing.
Taking a tip from the Tom Sawyer school of management, McCurry usually succeeds in getting O’Meara to do the windows. When asked, O’Meara grinned and said the window cleaning didn’t happen this year because of the rain.
Curt Riley, Executive Director of the DSGA, attended the Monday outing. Riley said that a scholarship committee selects the recipients. Ron Barrows, the head pro at Rehoboth, is one of the committee members.
The committee takes into account the applicants’ golf skills, academic performance, character, and financial need. The four scholarships awarded this year are renewable on an annual basis for four years, so the amount awarded this year translates to a financial commitment of $36,000.
Meghan Adams of Dover, who finished second in the Henlopen Conference tournament in May, won the major award for $3000. Jerry Rawlins of Rehoboth received a $2000 stipend. The 1997 Cape Henlopen High School grad will use the money to attend Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach. Two junior golfers from New Castle County also won $2000 stipends.
O’Meara has a reputation as a gracious golf pro, and both his talents and people skills were on display Monday. He met with a ready smile every request for a photograph or autograph. O’Meara watched one player make a nice shot onto the third green, and told the amateur O’Meara could use him at the next AT&T Pebble Beach pro-am.
O’Meara also talked freely about his performance at last weekend’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst. After an opening round 71 on Thursday, he missed the cut on Friday with a 79. “I made a perfect drive on 1, seven iron to the green, bogey. Perfect drive on 2, then 5 iron, bogey. I had a couple three putts. The bogeys just kept adding up and I was down the road. But I broke 80,” O’Meara grinned.
The 1998 PGA Player of the Year is taking some time off from the Tour for the next few weeks. At his next tournament he will be defending his 1998 British Open title at Carnoustie, where Ben Hogan won his only British Open championship in 1953.