GOLFING LEGENDS AND ROLEX TESTIMONEES TURNING BACK THE YEARS
Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey (US) is hosting the 2017 edition of the biennial Presidents Cup. The world’s finest golfers representing the United States and the International Team are vying for the prestigious honour of being crowned Presidents Cup champions for the next two years.
First held in 1994 and partnered by Rolex since 2010, this year’s Presidents Cup marks the 12th edition of the tournament, comprised of a series of foursome, four-ball and singles matches for each team to compete over.
This is Liberty National Golf Club’s first time hosting the Presidents Cup. Now in its 12th year, the venue boasts stunning views of the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan just across the Hudson River.
The 2017 Presidents Cup is an important event for Rolex Testimonees Steve Stricker and Nick Price who have been announced as the Captains for the U.S. Team and the International Team, respectively. They lead the top 10 players from their regions, plus two Captains’ picks each. Five captain’s assistants are also present to assist both Stricker and Price, including, for the U.S. Team, Rolex Testimonees Fred Couples, Tiger Woods and Davis Love III.
This year marks the first time Stricker leads the U.S. Team, although neither he nor Price is a stranger to the Presidents Cup. Throughout his illustrious 27-year career Stricker played an integral part in five U.S. Team wins: 1996, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. Price has played in five tournaments including the 1998 edition where the International Team recorded its only win of the series to date, and also served as Captain in 2013 and 2015. Prior to the 2017 edition, 18 members of the Rolex family of Testimonees have participated in the Presidents Cup as either a player or Captain.
The year 2017 is special as it marks Rolex’s enduring 50-year relationship with the game of golf. It all began in 1967 with Arnold Palmer, joined by Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. Known together as ‘The Big Three”, these legendary players changed the face of golf forever, and their partnership with Rolex as the first golf Testimonees marked the beginnings of a relationship based on a quest for perfection, excellence and sportsmanship. This year also welcomed the introduction of the Junior Presidents Cup, in collaboration with the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) – an organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf – of which Rolex has been a Premier Partner since 1986. The Junior Presidents Cup provides the top 24 non-European players, under the age of 19, the chance to experience international match play and push the limits of their abilities against the best in their sport.
The honorary captains for the Junior U.S. and International Teams are Rolex Testimonees Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. As captains of the 2003 Presidents Cup, these two giants of the sport agreed to share the trophy – the only tie in the history of the tournament – after three gruelling playoff holes between fellow Testimonee Tiger Woods and Ernie Els failed to declare a winner. The incredible sportsmanship and respect shown by the pair epitomizes Rolex’s traditions and history. Add to that fellow Rolex Testimonee Trevor Immelman as International Team Captain, for a Junior Presidents Cup with three first-class ambassadors from which the next generation of golfers can learn.
Rolex became a partner of the Presidents Cup in 2010, and speaking on the longevity of the alliance, Presidents Cup Executive Director Matt Kamienski said: “2017 is a very exciting year for the Presidents Cup as we introduce the Junior competition and continue to align our ideals with our partners, including Rolex. Rolex has a long-standing history with the AJGA, as well as to the PGA TOUR, highlighting its commitment to supporting golf at every level of the game.
“The Junior Presidents Cup provides the perfect opportunity for those young golfers to understand the importance of our partnership with Rolex. We look forward to continue working with Rolex to ensure the Junior Presidents Cup becomes a hotbed of young talent.”
Speaking about the 2017 Junior Presidents Cup, Rolex Testimonee Trevor Immelman said: “It’s an honour to represent the Junior International Team as its first Captain. The AJGA, in partnership with Rolex, has helped pave the way for some of golf’s leading talents to succeed as professionals, including Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler. I am looking forward to helping the best junior golfers from outside of the United States and Europe to emulate their success and gain experience competing in team match play at an international level.”
THE PRESIDENTS CUP TEAMS
The U.S. Team is chosen from the 10 players who earn the most FedEx-Cup points over the last two years, while the International Team will be formed of the top 10 eligible players in the Official World Golf Ranking Both teams are rounded out by two Captains’ picks to ensure the best roster in the sport.
Representing their teams at this year’s Presidents Cup are several members of the Rolex New Guard, a group of young, ambitious golfers who, through their skill, presence and achievements, are becoming the focal point of golf’s new elite. This new generation will compete alongside, and against, some more experienced members of the Rolex family of Testimonees, among them Presidents Cup legends and multiple-Major champions.
In the U.S. Team, these include three 2017 Major winners: Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas; the 2015 winner of THE PLAYERS Championship Rickie Fowler; two-time PGA TOUR winner Daniel Berger and five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson, who has played in every Presidents Cup since the match’s inception in 1994.
Rolex Testimonees joining the International Team include Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, whose 2016-17 season includes three PGA TOUR wins (including two World Golf Championships) and top-15 finishes in each of the year’s Majors; Australia’s Jason Day and Adam Scott, who will play their fourth and eighth Presidents Cups, respectively; and Anirban Lahiri from India, who has 18 career wins to his name.
Speaking on the importance of the Presidents Cup, Rolex Testimonee Jason Day said: “This year will mark my fourth Presidents Cup appearance, and it’s an honour that never diminishes. Rolex has been an important partner of the Presidents Cup since 2010 and its enduring commitment to golf helps create an inimitable sense of tradition and history around the tournament.”
WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME
The 2017 Presidents Cup week commenced with the World Golf Hall of Fame 2017 Induction Ceremony on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 in nearby New York City. Among those to be inducted was Rolex Testimonee Lorena Ochoa, from Mexico, whose impact on the LPGA was immediate, earning her the title of 2003 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year. During her impressive career, Ochoa won two Major Championships – the Women’s British Open 2007 and the ANA Inspiration in 2008 – amassed 27 victories on the LPGA Tour, and topped the Rolex Rankings for 158 consecutive weeks between 2007-2010.