Bob Dylan was right – “the times, they are a changin’.”
Ever since Arnold Palmer slipped on a golden Day-Date in 1967, Rolex practically owned the world of professional golf. Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Jordan Spieth are all Rolex ambassadors, and the luxury watchmaker is the leading supporter behind top events like the U.S. Open, Presidents Cup, PLAYERS Championship, and Open Championship.
But that all changed in 2011 when the PGA of America (which runs the Ryder Cup when it’s held in the U.S.) ended its long relationship with Rolex in favor of fierce rival, OMEGA. The groundbreaking deal brought a new player into the game by awarding OMEGA sole marketing rights to the Ryder Cup in the U.S. – something Rolex wasn’t overly thrilled with.
Shortly after the partnership was formed, Greg Norman – who joined team OMEGA in 2010, helped broker the deal, and travels with six OMEGA watches at all times – was banned from a Rolex-sponsored Ryder Cup press conference in Scotland. Bad timing or just coincidence? We’ll let you be the judge.
OMEGA made a splash in its debut as the Official Timekeeper for the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club just outside Chicago. It welcomed U.S. Captain Davis Love III (who’s also captaining this year’s American squad) to its team of golf ambassadors and released a limited edition Seamaster Aqua Terra Captain’s Watch.
Not to be outdone, Rolex extended its historic partnership with the European Tour (which runs the Ryder Cup when it’s held in Europe) through 2022.
So what does all this mean for Ryder Cup fans? Nothing really. It’s been said time heals all wounds, but on all accounts, the U.S./European Ryder Cup rivalry is only heating up.