It was The Masters 1997. Tiger Woods had announced his arrival on the world stage

by winning his first of four green jackets at the Augusta National Golf Club. This would

be the American’s first of a remarkable 14 Major championship wins, signalling an

era of dominance that took golf to heights never previously reached. In the women’s game,

Sweden’s Annika Sörenstam had already claimed two U.S. Women’s Open titles and would go on to

win an unprecedented 10 Major championships.

These two iconic golfers changed the face of the sport, introducing it to a wider global audience.

At the same time, and away from the spotlight, a generation of future elite-level golfers, many

of whom would go on to attribute their inspiration to Woods and Sörenstam, were just at the start

of their journeys towards becoming world-class golfers.

Tiger Woods wearing the Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller 4000

A quarter of a century later and these young men and women are now the ones

changing the landscape of the sport. Athletes such as three-time Major winner

Jordan Spieth and 2017’s breakout star Justin Thomas, both only 24 years of age, are

striving to set new standards. Similarly, Lexi Thompson, who became the youngest-

ever winner of an LGPA tournament in September 2011, aged 16, and 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,

possess the individual skill and pursuit of success inherent in the trailblazers that

have come before them. These prodigious young golfers were all welcomed into the

Rolex family of Testimonees shortly after turning professional. Together with a number

of supremely talented golfers of their generation, at the forefront of the sport, they

represent a new era of golfing excellence and are part of a collective known as the

Rolex New Guard

Motivated to achieve greatness and follow in the footsteps of their iconicpredecessors,

every member of the Rolex New Guard prepares for pressure situations with unrelenting

emphasis on precision, performance, passion, reliability and uncompromising quality.

They play with the utmost respect for one another, while sharing a mutual bond and

close friendship.

Continuing legacy

Rolex’s longstanding commitment to golf is part of the Swiss watchmaker’s

prestigious sporting and cultural heritage that dates back to the pioneering origins of

the company and its desire to support those whose determination and commitment

to excellence transcend limits and inspire greatness.

Rolex has championed golf since 1967, nurturing a relationship with its world-class

family of Testimonees, all of whom exude excellence on and off the course. Their raw

talent and quest for precision and performance have helped them reach the top with

integrity, maturity and respect.

Among them are Americans Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler. Fiercely

competitive on the course, all three men have already accomplished great feats, with

Jordan Spieth winning the 2015 Masters Tournament and the 2015 U.S. Open, followed

by victory at The 146th Open, in 2017. Justin Thomas claimed four PGA TOUR events in

2017, including his first Major victory, on route to being named PGA TOUR Player of the

Year.

Justin Thomas with the FedEx Cup

Rickie Fowler, who turned professional in 2009 shortly before his 20th birthday,

held the accolade of number one ranked amateur golfer in the world for 37 weeks

between 2007 and 2008, and in 2016 reached a career high of fourth in the Official

World Golf Ranking following his victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Away from the course, each of these elite competitors are hugely supportive of one

another, having built a friendship based on years of seeing each other develop. The

evolution of their personalities can partly be attributed to the support received from

the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), an organization dedicated to the growth

and development of young men and women aspiring to earn college golf scholarships

through competitive junior golf.

Rickie Fowler

As a Premier Partner since 1986, Rolex has seen many of its Testimonees benefit from the AJGA,

including Phil Mickelson, Lorena Ochoa, Lexi Thompson and Tiger Woods. Aside from creating bonds

between golfers and teaching  them the importance of tradition, etiquette and respect, the AJGA

also rewards the best junior golfer in its ranks with the Rolex Junior Player of the Year award,

instilling the recipient with the confidence and desire to go on and achieve further success

throughout their professional careers.

Reflecting on his memories of being awarded the prestigious title, Jordan Spieth

stated that: “Given the major commitment Rolex has made to supporting junior golf, I

have been aware of the brand since my earliest days of competing. My first personal

connection came when I was awarded the AJGA Rolex Player of the Year in 2009 and

my affinity with the brand has grown as our relationship has evolved.”

Global family

Fellow American Brooks Koepka is another member of the Rolex family who has

experienced Major championship success, winning the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills,

just a month after his 27th birthday. Australian Jason Day also experienced his first

Major triumph in Wisconsin, aged 27, when he won the 2015 PGA Championship

at Whistling Straits. His commitment to precision on the course, persistence and

consistency saw him become the No.1 ranked golfer in the world the same year.

Having only turned professional in 2013, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama is one of Asia’s

finest golfers, with an impressive Majors record to accompany his five PGA TOUR

wins. The 25-year-old will expect further accolades in the near future.

Hideki Matsuyama

Both Rolex Testimonees since 2016, two of the golfers making up the European

contingent of the New Guard are Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick and Spain’s Jon

Rahm. Following his second win on the European Tour in 2017, both of which were

Rolex Series events, Rahm said: “To win two of the European Tour’s Rolex Series

events as a Rolex Ambassador has made these victories that much more special.”

The European Tour, a partner of Rolex since 1995, introduced the Rolex Series in 2017,

an initiative four-time European Tour event winner Matthew Fitzpatrick commends:

“The Rolex Series highlights Rolex’s continued commitment to our game and has

been an exceptional addition to the season, enabling both European Tour players and

fans to enjoy an elevated level of golf, closer to home.”

Along with Fitzpatrick and Rahm, 26-year-old Thomas Pieters, from Belgium, is another

European counterpart who made a name for himself at the 2016 Ryder Cup when he

set a new rookie record for points earned. He is sure to play an integral role in The 2018

European Ryder Cup Team, the esteemed event founded in 1927 that Rolex has been

a partner of, when in Europe, since 1995.

Female icons

Rolex is also proud to support many of the world’s best female golfers in the world. All

three women in the New Guard are incredibly young, yet have experienced success

beyond their years.

Nobody has achieved more at such a young age than the supremely-talented New

Zealander Lydia Ko. At just 20 years old, Ko holds 12 LGPA Tour wins, as well as two

Major titles. Having spent a record 130 weeks as the top-ranking amateur, Ko went

on to become the youngest player of either gender to achieve number one status in

the Rolex Rankings as a professional. She then became the youngest woman to win

a Major championship in 2015 at The Evian Championship, where Rolex is the Official

Timekeeper, and made history by becoming the youngest golfer to win two Major

championships in a row with victory at the ANA Inspiration in 2016. Her extensive

list of achievements can be attributed to her obsession with precision, practice and

relentless consistency. Ko, like the great Annika Sörenstam, plays with an accuracy

and elegance found only in the very best.

Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson line up their putts

Another rising star is American Lexi Thompson. At just 12 years of age, Thompson

became the youngest golfer to ever qualify to play in the U.S. Women’s Open before

turning professional in 2015. Her incredible level of performance saw her set a record

as the youngest-ever winner of an LGPA tournament, aged just 16. Three years later,

she obtained one of the pinnacle achievements in the sport by winning the ANA

inspiration at age 19 and, with two LPGA Tour victories in 2017, continues to contest for

top honours in the ladies’ game.

Lexi Thomson places her ball on the 16th green

Born in September 1977, the youngest of the Rolex New Guard, Ontario-born

Brooke Henderson continues to make waves in the golfing world. Having turned

professional in 2014, the Canadian won her first Major at the 2016 KPMG Women’s

PGA Championship, the event’s youngest winner at 18. Respect and camaraderie,

as well as a desire to win were evident prior to Henderson’s dramatic play-off win

over Ko at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in 2016 after which the Canadian

stated: “Lydia Ko is definitely a role model for me, and being able to become friends

with her on tour and see her week to week is really cool, even if I know that she is the

competition.”

Brooke Henderson

Ensuring a bright future for the game

The achievements and accolades of the New Guard are a shining example to young

golfers of what can be achieved in the unrelenting pursuit of individual excellence.

Every member displays the integrity, respect and sportsmanlike behaviour that is so

crucial in inspiring the next generation of true ambassadors of the game.