The 146th playing of The Open, a championship Rolex has been Official Timekeeper of since 1981, returns to Royal Birkdale Golf Club. This renowned and challenging venue in Southport, England will welcome the world’s elite golfers from 20-23 July.
The Open is golf’s original championship and is staged annually on the finest links courses across the UK and Ireland. Each venue delivers consistent quality and a unique setting, designed to challenge the world’s best golfers to lift the coveted Claret Jug – the iconic trophy awarded to the Champion Golfer of the Year, since 1873.
Royal Birkdale is no exception. The elite players to have been crowned Champion Golfer of the Year there include one of Rolex’s first golfing Testimonees Arnold Palmer, in 1961, and fellow Testimonee Tom Watson, in 1983, when he won his unprecedented fifth Open title in nine years.
Seven of Rolex’s Testimonees have won The Open, and some of them on multiple occasions, for a total tally of 18 titles. Among them are legends of the game, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus – who, together with Arnold Palmer, are known as ‘The Big Three’. Zimbabwean Nick Price also earned the Claret Jug in 1994, as did Tiger Woods, first in 2000, followed by back-to-back victories in 2005 and 2006; and Phil Mickelson in 2013.
Rolex has been present at The Open since 1981, when its iconic clocks first adorned the championship links and a relationship developed into an official partnership with the championship organisers and guardians of the global game, The R&A.
Commenting on the longevity of the relationship between Rolex and The Open and more widely with golf, Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said: “Like The R&A, Rolex respects the traditions and heritage of the game, making it an ideal Patron of The Open, as well as more widely for the sport of golf.”
2017 is the 50th anniversary of Rolex and Golf. A new wave of young golfers keen to emulate past champions and fellow Testimonees Palmer, Player, Nicklaus, Watson, Woods and Mickelson, will aim to make their own mark on the game at Royal Birkdale, by winning the Claret Jug and, in doing so, inspiring future generations of golfers to follow in their wake.
Among these exceptionally talented individuals are the most recent Major winner, Brooks Koepka, as well as former world number one golfers and Major winners Jason Day and Jordan Spieth, both of whom were in the top five at St Andrews in The 144th Open. They are joined by Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Thorbjørn Olesen and Jon Rahm, all eager to win their first Major.
Other rising stars in the Rolex family to contest The 146th Open are Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, Thomas Pieters, Justin Thomas and Adam Scott. With top 10 finishes in the first two Majors of the year, they have shown a level of performance on par with the championship’s standing.
The Open www.theopen.com