ROLEX TESTIMONEES JACK NICKLAUS AND ARNOLD PALMER EVOKE MEMORIES AS NEW GENERATION OF CHAMPIONS ASSEMBLE FOR 116th U.S. OPEN
As golf’s new generation prepare for the 116th U.S. Open Championship, where Rolex is Official Timekeeper, memories of the famous battles at Oakmont Country Club set the scene for an historic ninth staging at the Pittsburgh-area course.
A milestone in the evolution of the game, the 1962 competition famously gave rise to the legendary major career of one of golf’s most influential characters. Reflecting on this significant victory, Rolex Testimonee Jack Nicklaus said: “My 1962 U.S. Open win at Oakmont was extremely important. It was not only my first Major Championship victory, but my first win as a professional. It gave me a lifetime exemption that set the foundation for my professional career.
“It also came under challenging circumstances, with my long-time friend Arnold Palmer playing such a high level of golf at the time and competing in his Pennsylvania backyard. But at age 22, I didn’t even think about that. I only thought about the one thing I could control—me.”
Inspired by their fellow Rolex Testimonees, the greats of today, including Rolex Testimonees Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth will seek to create their own memories when they take to the tee at the course famed for its undulating greens, deep bunkers and narrow fairways.
Defending the title at 22 years old – the same age Nicklaus enjoyed his first U.S. Open victory – Spieth said: “While the game is different now than it was back then, there are definitely a few things I can take from how others carried themselves before me, and how the U.S. Open was won here.”
Of Spieth’s enthralling career to date, Nicklaus said: “Jordan has already achieved so much at just 22 years old. My Major Championship wins took place over the course of 25 years, so let’s give him time to build on what he has already done.”
World No. 1 and Rolex Testimonee Jason Day arrives at Oakmont Country Club as one of the Championship favorites. The formidable power of his long game and supreme touch around the greens has fostered a winning momentum in 2016 and with this growing confidence, a continued commitment to excellence.
“All the hard work that I’ve put into my game right now has paid off, but I’ve got to keep working hard to win as much as I can,” said Day.
Meanwhile, a special exemption granted by the USGA has welcomed two-time U.S. Open Champion and Rolex Testimonee, Retief Goosen, to the field. The South African was victorious in 2001 at Southern Hills, and held off fellow Testimonee Phil Mickelson to win at Shinnecock Hills in 2004.
Recent Rolex Testimonee, Bryson DeChambeau, renounced automatic qualification for Oakmont Country Club as the 2015 U.S. Amateur Champion, by turning professional in April. Nevertheless, the former USA Walker Cup player proved his talent and maturity by advancing through Sectional Qualifying to secure a place in the field. Joining him is fellow Rolex Testimonee, Luke Donald, who captured a spot after a six-person playoff.
Since 1895, the U.S. Open has been conducted by the United States Golf Association (USGA), whose values of excellence and innovation are shared with the Swiss watchmaker. Rolex is a long-standing partner of the USGA, and in addition to the U.S. Open Championship, the Swiss watchmaker supports additional USGA championships including the U.S. Women’s Open, the U.S. Senior Open, the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Women’s Amateur along with international competitions including the Walker Cup and the Curtis Cup.
Rolex Director of Communication & Image, Arnaud Boetsch, said: “As golf’s leading supporter, Rolex understands the paramount importance of the game’s international growth. For this reason we are proud to partner with the USGA and the U.S. Open, one of the game’s foremost Championships, providing opportunities for rising amateurs to compete alongside the professionals, as well as an esteemed stage to showcase the best in sportsmanship.
“Whilst we honor the great memories of Palmer and Nicklaus’ spirited contest at Oakmont Country Club, we look forward to witnessing the young generation of Rolex Testimonees in their pursuit of the coveted title.”
Beyond the U.S. Open, Rolex has played a leading role as a committed partner of golf for nearly half a century, sharing its values and actively supporting the growth of the modern game.