It was June 18 in 1960, American golfer Arnold Palmer was tied for 15th position after three rounds in the US Open, trailing seven shots behind then-leader Mike Souchak. The odds were heavily stacked against him but Palmer’s brilliance on the green eventually shone through: hitting six birdies in the first seven holes to card 30 on the front nine, he parred the last four holes to close on a 35 on the back nine. That exceptional performance at the Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, Colorado, earned him his first—and only—US Open title.
Like Palmer’s remarkable last-day performance at the 1960 US Open suggests, golf is an intriguing game filled with strokes of brilliance, epic meltdowns and, of course, dramatic finishes. And such memorable moments are not restricted to big international tournaments; they occur all around the world, regularly across every level of the game, from junior and amateur ranks to the professional circuit.
The need to maintain the traditions and standards of golf everywhere is why Rolex has been supporting the game and its development, as well as exceptional golfers worldwide for more than five decades. The Swiss brand’s long-standing support of golf began in 1967 with Palmer, American Jack Nicklaus and South African Gary Player, quite possibly the most talented golfing trio on the tour back then. Widely known as The Big Three, they became the first Rolex Testimonees—a label bestowed upon personalities the brand has a close working partnership with—in golf.
For the next two decades, the trio challenged one another on the green, dominated the scene and in a way, changed the face of golf. With their constant and tireless pursuit of perfecting their play, they became global ambassadors of the game, introducing the sport to the younger generation. In their long careers, Palmer secured seven major championships, Player took home nine major wins, while Nicklaus’ record of 18 remains unsurpassed till today.
Despite the fierce rivalry among The Big Three, their relationship was one built on mutual respect and admiration. “We wanted to win so badly,” Player famously once said. “But at the same time, when one of us won, the other two would put out their hand and say ‘Well done, you beat me today, but I’ll get you tomorrow.’” Such is the competitive yet gentlemanly sporting values that Rolex would like to encourage among golfers in the wider community.
Over the years, the watchmaker continued to partner with more professionals and talents whose achievements have placed them in the highest echelons of the game. Like The Big Three before them, these players share a common ambition to be the best in the game. Major winners Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods from the US, Adam Scott from Australia, and Swede Annika SoÌˆrenstam, one of the greatest women’s golfers of all time, are just some of the notable names closely associated with Rolex.
A GAME OF EQUALITY
In the Eighties, to level the playing field and make golf more accessible to all, Rolex extended its network of support. It started working with prestigious tournaments such as The Open in the UK and the US Open; and governing bodies the likes of The R&A—the organiser of The Open—USGA and Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), as well as the American Junior Golf Association.
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