GENEVA, Switzerland (July 16, 2021) – Rolex returns to the Royal St George’s Golf Club as the Official Timekeeper for the 149th edition of The Open, marking the 40th anniversary of one of the most iconic partnerships in all of sport.
Established in 1860, The Open is golf’s original championship, held on the finest links courses in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These prestigious venues provide consistent quality and unique settings intended to test the world’s best players vying to lift the coveted Claret Jug awarded to the Champion Golfer of the Year since 1873.
On these hallowed grounds new pages testifying to golf’s rich, colorful and spectacular history are written by the men willing to confront the ruggedness and beauty of the elements and embrace the values that drive the discipline.
This year marks the 15th time Royal St George’s has hosted the championship, testament to the quality of this revered course, which last staged The Open in 2011, and before then, in 1981, the year Rolex became a Patron of The R&A.
Located on Kent’s stunning east coast, St George’s is renowned as a challenging venue with punishing rough and difficult bunker placement, representing an exacting test of players’ accuracy and technical precision, qualities that align with Rolex’s watchmaking endeavors.
Over the past four decades, Rolex clocks have adorned the championship links. In that time, the Swiss watchmaker has continued to develop one of the broadest, most enduring relationships between brand and sport, not only through golf’s Major tournaments, but through pivotal partnerships with guardians of the global game, including the organizers of The Open, The R&A.
The bond between Rolex and golf began with a pioneering agreement in 1967 when Arnold Palmer, joined by his great friends and rivals Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player – known together as The Big Three – became the brand’s first golfing Testimonees. This rich heritage, based on a shared commitment to perpetual excellence, has been the basis for Rolex and The Open’s long association.
Throughout its 161-year history, The Open has been the stage for some of the game’s most cherished and historic moments. Numerous Rolex Testimonees have enjoyed success at the event, including The Big Three, who won the Claret Jug a combined eight times over a period spanning almost three decades, with this year marking the 60th anniversary of Palmer’s first victory in 1961.
Following in their footsteps was Tom Watson, a five-time winner of The Open widely regarded as one of the greatest links players of all time. His inspired performance in 2009, when, aged 59, he narrowly missed out on equaling the record for the most Open victories of any player, strengthened the connection between himself and a championship he competed in for more than 40 years.
Testimonee success continued at the start of the millennium with Tiger Woods. His haul of 15 Majors is second only to Nicklaus (18) and includes three Open titles, in 2000, 2005 and 2006.
Other Rolex Testimonees to have prevailed at The Open include Pádraig Harrington, who won back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008, and World Golf Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson who claimed his fifth Major at Muirfield in 2013 and enters the 2021 edition with high hopes following his PGA Championship victory earlier this year.
American Jordan Spieth lifted the Claret Jug in 2017 to equal countryman Nicklaus’ remarkable feat of capturing three Major championships before the age of 24, while Francesco Molinari became Italy’s first Major winner a year later at Carnoustie and remains the last Testimonee to triumph at the championship.
Looking to add to their Major haul and be crowned Champion Golfer of the Year for the first time are the American trio of Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau, along with recent U.S. Open winner Jon Rahm of Spain, who would become the first Spanish winner of The Open since 1988.
Playing in front of his home crowd and looking to capture his first Major trophy, is 26-year-old Matthew Fitzpatrick. The Englishman enters the week with six professional wins, which includes a Rolex Series title.
Joining the elite field are a number of talented young players belonging to the Rolex New Guard, all eager to make their own mark on the game and inspire future generations of golfers to follow in their footsteps.
Among these outstanding prospects is Chile’s Joaquín Niemann, currently ranked in the top 30 of the Official World Golf Ranking, and American Matthew Wolff, who has already secured a top-10 finish at a Major championship.