GUARD

Rolex’s league of ex­cep­tional golf­ing tal­ent con­tinue to dom­i­nate the sport

#Legend - - ON WATCH -

ON APRIL 13, 1997, the name Tiger Woods made head­lines across the world; he had won the pres­ti­gious Mas­ters Tour­na­ment by a record 12 strokes in Au­gusta, Ge­or­gia that day. He was just 21 years old and the youngest player ever to win the tour­na­ment. This would be the Amer­i­can’s first of a re­mark­able 14 Ma­jor cham­pi­onship wins, in­clud­ing the US Open, the Bri­tish Open, the PGA Cham­pi­onship, and the Mas­ters, sig­nalling an era of dom­i­nance that took golf to heights never pre­vi­ously reached.

Mean­while in the women’s game, Swe­den’s An­nika Sören­stam made her mark by claim­ing two US Women’s Open ti­tles while still in her 20s – she would go on to win an un­prece­dented 93 events, in­clud­ing 10 Ma­jors. These two iconic golfers changed the face of the sport. They were cred­ited with spark­ing an in­ter­est in the sport glob­ally and, sig­nif­i­cantly, for in­spir­ing a gen­er­a­tion of ju­niors, many of whom were in their teens and would go on to be­come world- class golfers.

A quar­ter of a cen­tury later, these young men and women have emerged as the game’s van­guard, de­ter­mined to write their own his­tory. They’re now the ones chang­ing the land­scape of the sport. The pro­fes­sional golf ranks are cur­rently rife with play­ers un­der the age of 25, prov­ing that golf is no longer an “old man’s game”.

Ath­letes such as three-time Ma­jor win­ner Jor­dan Spi­eth and 2017’s break­out star, Justin Thomas, both only 25 years of age, are striv­ing to set new stan­dards.

The girls, too, are up­ping the ante. Lexi Thomp­son be­came the youngest- ever win­ner of an LPGA tour­na­ment in 2011 at age 16. Her record was then bro­ken by an­other teen, 15-year- old Ly­dia Ko, who achieved the same feat less than a year later and went on to win two con­sec­u­tive Ma­jor cham­pi­onships at the 2015 Evian Cham­pi­onship and the 2016 ANA In­spi­ra­tion.

What these young prodi­gious golfers have in com­mon shortly af­ter turn­ing pro­fes­sional is that they be­came part of Rolex’s fam­ily of am­bas­sadors, or “Tes­ti­monees”, as the brand calls them. To­gether with other ex­cep­tion­ally tal­ented golfers of their gen­er­a­tion, they are part of a col­lec­tive known as the Rolex New Guard.

Among Rolex’s more than 150 an­nual spon­sored events across fi ve sports seg­ments ( golf, sail­ing, ten­nis, mo­tor­sports and

Clock­wise from above: Rolex Tes­ti­monee Rickie Fowler at The Hero World Chal­lenge in 2017; Tes­ti­monee Ja­son Day with the 2016 Play­ers Cham­pi­onship Tro­phy; Tes­ti­monee Ly­dia Ko

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