The Rise of The Rolex New Guard

Jor­dan Spi­eth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Ja­son Day, Jon Rahm, Matthew Fitzpa­trick, Thomas Pi­eters, Lexi Thomp­son, Ly­dia Ko and Brooke Hen­der­son rep­re­sent a new era of golf­ing ex­cel­lence and are part of a col­lec­tive known as the Rolex Ne

HK Golfer - - Feature -

It was The Masters 1997. Tiger Woods had an­nounced his ar­rival on the world­stage by win­ning his first of four green jack­ets at the Au­gusta Na­tional Golf Club. This would be the Amer­i­can’s first of a re­mark­able 14 Ma­jor cham­pi­onship wins, sig­nalling an era of dom­i­nance that took golf to heights never pre­vi­ously reached.In the women’s game, Swe­den’s An­nika Sören­stam had al­ready claimed two U.S. Women’s Open ti­tles and would go on to win an un­prece­dented 10 Ma­jor cham­pi­onships. Th­ese two iconic golfers changed the face of the sport, in­tro­duc­ing it to a broader global au­di­ence. At the same time, and away from the spot­light, a gen­er­a­tion of fu­ture elite-level golfers, many of whom would go on to at­tribute their in­spi­ra­tion to Woods and Sören­stam, were just at the start of their jour­neys to­wards be­com­ing world-class golfers.

Mo­ti­vated to achieve great­ness and fol­low in the foot­steps of their iconic pre­de­ces­sors, ev­ery mem­ber of the Rolex New Guard pre­pares for pres­sure sit­u­a­tions with un­re­lent­ing em­pha­sis on pre­ci­sion, per­for­mance, pas­sion, re­li­a­bil­ity and un­com­pro­mis­ing quality. They play with the ut­most re­spect for one another while shar­ing a mu­tual bond and close friend­ship.

Rolex has cham­pi­oned golf since 1967, nurturing a re­la­tion­ship with its world­class fam­ily of Tes­ti­monees, all of whom ex­ude ex­cel­lence on and off the course. Their raw tal­ent and quest for pre­ci­sion and per­for­mance have helped them reach the top with in­tegrity, ma­tu­rity and re­spect.

Among them are Amer­i­cans Jor­dan Spi­eth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler. Fiercely com­pet­i­tive on the course, all three men have al­ready ac­com­plished great feats, with Jor­dan Spi­eth win­ning the 2015 Masters Tour­na­ment and the 2015 U.S. Open, fol­lowed by a vic­tory at The 146th Open, in 2017. Justin Thomas claimed four PGA TOUR events in 2017, in­clud­ing his first Ma­jor vic­tory, on route to be­ing named PGA TOUR Player of the Year. Rickie Fowler, who turned pro­fes­sional in 2009 shortly be­fore his 20th birth­day, held the ac­co­lade of num­ber one ranked am­a­teur golfer inthe world for 37 weeks be­tween 2007 and 2008, and in 2016 reached a ca­reer high of fourth in the Of­fi­cial World Golf Rank­ing fol­low­ing his vic­tory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Cham­pi­onship.

Away from the course, each of th­ese elite com­peti­tors is hugely sup­port­ive of one another, hav­ing built a friend­ship based on years of see­ing each other de­velop. The evo­lu­tion of their per­son­al­i­ties can partly be at­trib­uted to the sup­port re­ceived from the Amer­i­can Ju­nior Golf As­so­ci­a­tion (AJGA), an or­gan­i­sa­tion ded­i­cated to the growth and de­vel­op­ment of young men and women as­pir­ing to earn col­lege golf schol­ar­ships through com­pet­i­tive ju­nior golf. As a Pre­mier Part­ner since 1986, Rolex has seen many of its Tes­ti­monees ben­e­fit from the AJGA, in­clud­ing Phil Mick­el­son, Lorena Ochoa, Lexi Thomp­son and Tiger Woods. Aside from cre­at­ing bonds be­tween golfers and teach­ing them the im­por­tance of tra­di­tion, eti­quette and re­spect, the AJGA also re­wards the best ju­nior golfer in its ranks with the Rolex Ju­nior Player of the Year award, in­still­ing the re­cip­i­ent with the con­fi­dence and de­sire to go on and achieve fur­ther suc­cess through­out their pro­fes­sional ca­reers.

Re­flect­ing on his mem­o­ries of be­ing awarded the pres­ti­gious ti­tle, Jor­dan Spi­eth stated that: “My first per­sonal con­nec­tion came when I was awarded the AJGA Rolex Player of the Year in 2009 and my affin­ity with the brand has grown as our re­la­tion­ship has evolved.”

Fel­low Amer­i­can Brooks Koepka is another mem­ber of the Rolex fam­ily who has ex­pe­ri­enced Ma­jor cham­pi­onship suc­cess, win­ning con­sec­u­tive U.S. Open ti­tle in 2017 and 2018. Aus­tralian Ja­son Day ex­pe­ri­enced his first Ma­jor tri­umph in Wis­con­sin, aged 27 when he won the 2015 PGA Cham­pi­onship at Whistling Straits. His com­mit­ment to pre­ci­sion on the course, per­sis­tence and con­sis­tency saw him be­come the No.1 ranked golfer in the world the same year.

Hav­ing only turned pro­fes­sional in 2013, Ja­pan’s Hideki Mat­suyama is one of Asia’s finest golfers, with an im­pres­sive Ma­jors record to ac­com­pany his five PGA TOUR wins. The 25-year-old will ex­pect fur­ther ac­co­lades in the near fu­ture.

Both Rolex Tes­ti­monees since 2016, two of the golfers mak­ing up the Euro­pean con­tin­gent of the New Guard are English­man Matthew Fitzpa­trick and Spain’s Jon Rahm. Fol­low­ing his sec­ond win on the Euro­pean Tour in 2017, both of which were Rolex Se­ries events, Rahm said: “To win two of the Euro­pean Tour’s Rolex Se­ries events as a Rolex Am­bas­sador has made th­ese vic­to­ries that much more spe­cial.” The Euro­pean Tour, a part­ner of Rolex since 1995, in­tro­duced the Rolex Se­ries in2017, an ini­tia­tive four-time Euro­pean Tour event win­ner Matthew Fitzpa­trick com­mends: “The Rolex Se­ries highlights Rolex’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to our game­and has been an ex­cep­tional ad­di­tion to the sea­son, en­abling both Euro­pean Tour play­ers and fans to en­joy an el­e­vated level of golf, closer to home.”

Along with Fitzpa­trick and Rahm, 26-yearold Thomas Pi­eters, from Bel­gium, isan­other Euro­pean coun­ter­part who made a name for him­self at the 2016 Ry­der Cup When he set a new rookie record for points earned. He is sure to play an in­te­gral role in The 2018 Euro­pean Ry­der Cup Team, the es­teemed event founded in 1927that Rolex has been a part­ner of, when in Europe, since 1995.

Rolex is also proud to sup­port many of the world’s best fe­male golfers in the world.All three women in the New Guard are in­cred­i­bly young yet have ex­pe­ri­enced suc­cess be­yond their years.

No­body has achieved more at such a young age than the supremely-tal­ented New Zealan­der Ly­dia Ko. At just 20 years old, Ko holds 12 LPGA Tour wins, as well as two Ma­jor ti­tles. Hav­ing spent a record 130 weeks as the toprank­ing am­a­teur, Ko wen­ton to be­come the youngest player of ei­ther gen­der to achieve num­ber one sta­tus in the Rolex Rank­ings as a pro­fes­sional. She then be­came the youngest woman to win a Ma­jor cham­pi­onship in 2015 at The Evian Cham­pi­onship, where Rolex is­the Of­fi­cial Time­keeper and made his­tory by be­com­ing the youngest golfer to win two Ma­jor cham­pi­onships in a row with vic­tory at the ANA In­spi­ra­tion in 2016. Ko, like the great An­nika Sören­stam, plays with ac­cu­racy and el­e­gance found only in the very best.

Another ris­ing star is Amer­i­can Lexi Thomp­son. At just 12 years of age, Thomp­son be­came the youngest golfer ever to qual­ify to play in the U.S. Women’s Open be­fore turn­ing pro­fes­sional in 2015. Her in­cred­i­ble level of per­for­mance saw her seta record as the youngest-ever win­ner of an LPGA tour­na­ment, aged just 16. Three years later, she ob­tained one of the pin­na­cle achieve­ments in the sport by win­ning the ANA in­spi­ra­tion at age 19 and, with two LPGA Tour vic­to­ries in 2017, con­tin­ues to con­test for top honours in the ladies’ game.

Born in Septem­ber 1977, the youngest of the Rolex New Guard, On­tar­i­oborn Brooke Hen­der­son con­tin­ues to make waves in the golf­ing world. Hav­ing turned pro­fes­sional in 2014, the Cana­dian won her first Ma­jor at the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Cham­pi­onship, the event’s youngest win­ner at 18. Re­spect and ca­ma­raderie, as well as a de­sire to win were ev­i­dent be­fore Hen­der­son’s dra­matic play­off winover Ko at the KPMG Women’s PGA Cham­pi­onship in 2016 af­ter which the Cana­dian stated: “Ly­dia Ko is def­i­nitely a role model for me, and be­ing able to be­come friends with her on tour and see her week to week is re­ally cool, even if I know that she is­the com­pe­ti­tion.”

The achieve­ments and ac­co­lades of the New Guard are a shin­ing ex­am­ple to young golfers of what can be achieved in the un­re­lent­ing pur­suit of in­di­vid­ual ex­cel­lence. Ev­ery mem­ber dis­plays the in­tegrity, re­spect and sports­man­like be­hav­iour that is so cru­cial in in­spir­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of true am­bas­sadors of the game.

Brooke Hen­der­son isthe youngest of the Rolex New Guard, who con­tin­ues to make wavesin the golf­ing world

Three-time Ma­jor win­ner Jor­dan Spi­eth was awarded the AJGA Rolex Player of the Year in 2009 as an am­a­teur

No­body has achieved more at such a young age than the supreme­ly­tal­ented New Zealan­der Ly­dia Ko

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