Typically a face reserved for moments in which Mother Nature is behaving badly, longtime Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore almost seemed out of place Monday as the sun beamed overhead.
“I don’t know if I blessed the weather or if the weather blessed us,” he said.
Its atmosphere dampened a year ago by inclement weather, the 22nd edition of the Monday After the Masters went on without a hitch as clear skies loomed overhead to the delight of all at The Dye Club at Barefoot Resort.
Approximately 5,000 people covered the grounds during the event, enjoying a bevy of activities – none more poignant than the opportunity to brush shoulders with their favorite celebrities from the world of entertainment and sports.
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The event, sponsored by the Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation, largely benefitting the S.C. Junior Golf Association, an organization dedicated to preparing youths to better prepare for future challenges whether it be in the sport or life itself.
According to Hootie and the Blowfish lead and renowned country music artist Darius Rucker, that type of interaction is part of why the event has become one that is tabbed as a “must-go” on the calendar of so many.
“I think that is one of the best things about having it in Myrtle Beach, it’s seeing everyone come out every year, the big crowds we get and everyone having a good time,” he said. “That’s what you want, but it’s also about raising a lot of money for a worthy cause, which makes it a lot better.
“… People come out to see these celebrities and professionals come out. It’s all in good fun.”
For the celebrities, the event has also come to signify a family reunion of sorts.
“(The Weather Channel) was first invited when this event was in Charleston, to come have a live broadcast from the event,” Cantore said. “I kind of liked it then, and have been invited since. I wouldn’t miss it ... in fact, I took days off in November to make sure I could come.”
Heroes don’t always wear capes
More known for her prowess on the pitch than her skills with a golf club in hand, soccer legend Mia Hamm proved Monday she was not a one-trick pony, often putting her team in position for easy putts.
However, she may be best known for how she quickly came to one’s aid after being injured by a golf ball.
“It was on the 16th hole, I saw it happen and wish I’d seen (the ball) earlier to have warned her a bit better,” Hamm said.
Though unable to warn her of the ball’s dangerous approach, the U.S. women’s soccer legend was among the first there in an effort to ease the woman of her distress.
“Honestly, I think she was more embarrassed than anything, and I’m thankful for that,” Hamm said. “She took it like a champ, and fortunately everything wound up just fine.
As a member of the U.S. women’s national team, Hamm helped lead her side to a pair of World Cup titles and three Olympic gold medals. On an individual basis, she left the game as its leading goal-scorer, in addition to holding the national team record for assists.
Though removed from the team’s everyday activities for some time, she remains quite in tune with its progress, particularly now as it prepares for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil this summer.
“They’re level of play, their commitment, opportunities with leagues and to play with the national team creates a new level and platform for them to compete,” Hamm said. “... They’ve returned with world championships, and they’ve won it doing the right things, an attractive style of play, attack minded, really strong defensive performances. I really look forward to them playing in Rio, and maybe winning it.”
More importantly, though, she is solidly behind their fight for equal pay in relation to their male counterparts.
“Obviously, their success, the new (collective bargaining agreement) should change dramatically,” she said. “The team is generating a great deal of revenue for U.S. soccer, so with that said it is a no brainer. ... U.S. soccer does a good job investing its resources, and we need to continue being a leader in that. The women feel strongly in that and I support them in their fight.”
He can always come home
To the surprise of few, aside from the raucous applause offered Rucker as he journeyed from tee to tee, arguably no one bathed in the adoration of the masses gathered at The Dye Club at Barefoot Resort like Carolina Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert.
A standout at Coastal Carolina from 2004-07, his story as an undrafted free agent to a Pro Bowl performer is used often as a tale that hard work eventually wins after all.
For Tolbert, returning back to where it all began left him somewhat at a loss for words.
“It’s fun, I don’t get a chance to come back often, and when I do it’s usually for a quick in and out,” he said. “I get to see a couple of people, and that’s it. But to come back, especially for a good reason and support a cause that’s worth it, it’s fun.
“This is my first (Monday After the Masters), to call this home and have people scream my name and excited for what I’m doing, I love it.”
Also receiving quite the rush for autographs and photos – selfies in particular – was fellow All-Pro Golden Tate of the Detroit Lions and a trio of Pro Football Hall of Famers in Eric Dickerson, John Randle and Andre Reed.
“There aren’t too many places I’d rather be right now,” Randle said.