The Ryder Cup unites golfing greats from both sides of the Atlantic
By: David Ho
September 22, 2023
Regarded as one of golf’s most coveted prizes, The Ryder Cup brings the best of Europe and the United States for a face off on the golf course
The Ryder Cup is set to run from September 29 to October 1, bringing 12-player combinations from Europe and the US to compete for the Samuel Ryder Trophy. Held since 1927, the biennial event is hosted alternately by the PGA of America and Ryder Cup Europe. In 2023, The 44th Ryder Cup will be held at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy, just 17 km from Rome.
One of golf’s most coveted prizes, The Ryder Cup showcases golf at its very best. The Ryder Cup Trophy is named after English businessman and golf enthusiast Samuel Ryder, who first donated the trophy in 1927 as the prize for the international competition between American and British professional golfers at Worcester Country Club, US.
The first tee is a stage unlike any other in international sport. Each edition of this unique competition brings hundreds of thousands of spectators to the course and attracts millions of television viewers worldwide. Golf’s most exciting team event is always intense, raising the passions of players and fans alike as the drama unfolds. It has inspired some of the most memorable duels for nearly a century and perpetuates the very legend of golf. It is defined by the crowd filling the grandstands, the noise, the anticipation and the palpable nerves.
Rolex first partnered with The Ryder Cup in 1995 as Official Timekeeper of Team Europe. The Swiss watchmaker is now a Worldwide Partner at all editions of the competition, in both Europe and the United States, and Presenting Partner of the weekly Ryder Cup Points Standings that determine player qualification.
Rolex testimonee Luke Donald is Europe’s Captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup. He has already represented Europe on four occasions, with the team winning every time. In his last appearance, in 2012, he led Team Europe out in the singles, securing the first blue point on the board in the so-called Miracle at Medinah. He also served as a vice-captain at the past two editions, including in 2018 under fellow testimonee Thomas Bjørn, who will serve as vice-captain this year.
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“The Ryder Cup is the purest form of competition that we have in our sport. We play a lot of individual tournaments but to come together as a team and do something for the collective rather than just yourself is special. There is nothing quite like representing your country or continent. The Ryder Cup is rich in history and there is a great rivalry between Europe and the United States,” Donald says, ahead of this year’s competition. “It is very passionate and there is nothing that matches it in the game of golf.”
On the US side, Rolex testimonee Zach Johnson serves as captain. He made the first of his five Ryder Cup appearances as a player in 2006 and has served as a vice-captain at the past two editions. He has named fellow testimonee, Fred Couples, as one of his vice-captains for Rome.
Players in the competition are truly invested in it. “The Ryder Cup represents a lot for me. It is one of the main reasons why I am where I am today. The 1997 Ryder Cup was the spark that ignited my passion for the game. I cannot quantify or put into words how much it means but it is hugely important for me,” says Rolex testimonee Jon Rahm.
By hosting the 44th Ryder Cup, Italy becomes the seventh European nation to stage the famous event, joining England, Scotland, Spain, Ireland, Wales and France. With water hazards located throughout the course, the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club offers an exciting and challenging layout that provides risk and reward shots to captivate spectators.
Commenting on the challenge of playing away from home, Justin Thomas said, “With the 2023 Ryder Cup taking place in Italy, we are especially motivated to go there and win”.
Jordan Spieth added, “The Ryder Cup is just a different beast when we play it away from home and on European soil. It would be really special for us to win in Rome due to what has been happening over the last few years in team events on U.S. soil.”
The two Americans have forged one of golf’s most competitive and formidable partnerships in recent years and if paired together this year, will once again be a tough pairing to beat.
One of the most successful and enduring relationships between a brand and sport, Rolex’s affiliation with golf began in 1967 when Arnold Palmer became the brand’s first testimonee in the sport, joined by his friends and great rivals Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. They formed an unspoken, natural partnership to promote the values of golf to a wider and growing public.
For them, victory achieved through proper means was fundamental. These men were the embodiment of fair play, as Nicklaus demonstrated at the 1969 Ryder Cup, when he conceded a putt to tie the competition. This noble sporting gesture marked the invention of the concession, a trait that remains to this day one of the most admired in sport.
Speaking about The Ryder Cup, Jack Nicklaus said, “These competitions are very different to Majors and other golf competitions. In team competitions such as The Ryder Cup, your competition becomes your partner in the different matches. I am pretty certain that Arnold Palmer and I never lost a match. We played together a lot throughout our competitive golf careers. These are opportunities for you to become really close with your partner and to create a special bond that can last the entirety of your life. That is the beauty of these competitions.”
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