Oakley follows dad’s footsteps, wins Delaware Open

Zac Oakley, right, poses next to Rehoboth head golf professional Charlie Schuyler after winning the Delaware Open on Tuesday. (Submitted photo/DSGA)

Zac Oakley, right, poses next to Rehoboth head golf professional Charlie Schuyler after winning the Delaware Open on Tuesday. (Submitted photo/DSGA)

REHOBOTH BEACH — Zac Oakley can remember watching his dad win this tournament when he was a kid.

It was only the Delaware Open, but it seemed like a big deal to the youngster.

“I’d hardly been out of the state of Delaware so I thought it was the biggest event around,” Oakley recalled with a laugh.

Now 33, Oakley long ago realized there are bigger golf tournaments in the world.

But that doesn’t mean the Delaware Open doesn’t hold a special place for Oakley. And it certainly felt like a big deal to the Wesley College grad when he won the state’s top tournament for the first time on Tuesday afternoon.

In the Delaware Open’s 50th year, Oakley was proud to put his name alongside his dad, Pete, who won the event six times between 1980 and 2000.

Oakley fired a third-round 68 on Tuesday to finish with a 12-under par total of 204, four shots ahead of Fieldstone’s Ryan Rucinski (208) in the 54-hole tournament at Rehoboth Beach Country Club.

Wild Quail’s Jay Whitby, who won the Delaware Amateur earlier this summer, finished in a four-way tie for third place with a 211.

“That’s probably what means the most — that my dad’s won it a bunch,” said Oakley, who has played in the Open every year since he was 18. “And I finally got one.

“I’m sure he’ll be proud,” Zac said about his father. “I’m sure he’ll be glad that both of our names will be on the trophy now.”

Back on a Rehoboth course where he worked as a bag boy when he was young, Oakley played Tuesday’s last eight holes at four-under par to hold off Rucinski. The 18-year-old Rucinski carded a final-round 69.

The former Salesianum standout closed within a shot of Oakley when he birdied No. 10. Oakley, though, sank birdie puts of 20 feet on No. 15 and eight feet on No. 16.

Oakley also called the four-foot, downhill putt he made for par on No. 17 a “knee-knocker.”

“I felt a bunch of pressure,” Oakley admitted. “But I just stayed focused and kept my rhythm. … It was a good feeling (on No. 18), really good.”

Oakley’s following of fans on Tuesday included plenty of family members and players he knew from both junior golf and Wesley.

“I wanted this one more than any mini-tour win I’ve had — for some reason,” said Oakley, who splits his time between Delaware and Florida. “Being from Delaware I wanted to win my state open. Seeing my dad win and being out there with him. … I know I had the game. It just comes down to making a few putts.”

Chip shots

Oakley’s second-round 65 on Monday ended up being the low round of the tournament. He finished the tournament with 16 birdies against only three bogeys (one was a double). … Also tying with Whitby for third place were Dave McNabb, DuPont’s Matthew Finger and Deerfield’s Mike Tobiason, Jr. … Whitby won the Delaware Open in 2013. … Dover High grad Chris Wisler, who won the Open in 2001, tied for seventh.

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