Inspired by A Timeless Spirit

Text and images courtesy of Rolex

Lorena Ochoa had spent the afternoon meeting members of Club de Golf in Pachuca, just outside Mexico City. The occasion had overrun, and she was due somewhere else but did not leave. Ochoa put her schedule on hold because she had promised she would speak to the club’s juniors.

It was 2007 and the then 25 year-old Lorena Ochoa, from Guadalajara, stood at Number 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. She had reached the pinnacle of the sport and was in the form of her life. Everybody wanted to meet her and her time was at a premium. However, a promise is a promise and young people are the future. Ochoa has never lost sight of that. 

“Lorena was supposed to leave but she said, ‘No, no, I want to talk to these guys,’ so she actually went off her schedule just for us,” remembers Maria Fassi, who was one of the juniors back then, but is now herself a star on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour. “That says so much about Lorena as a person. She answered all our questions and she was just there for us,” adds Fassi. 

“It was very special. Lorena was someone I admired and looked up to. I was not a very good golfer at the time, but I was already very passionate about the game and I knew I wanted to become a professional and follow in her footsteps.” 

Ochoa has a special ability to see the bigger picture. Even at the peak of her playing career, she remained appreciative of the role models in her life: her parents, siblings and inspirational golfers who helped to build the LPGA Tour, such as golfing legends Nancy Lopez and Annika Sörenstam. In turn, Ochoa has never failed to play her part in inspiring the next generation – youngsters aspiring to be golfers, teachers or doctors – and this is one of the reasons she has been such a natural fit as a Testimonee for Rolex. For more than half a century, the Swiss watchmaker has been a dedicated partner of golf, committed to the perpetual quest for excellence in the sport. Like Ochoa, Rolex understands the importance of investing in the future and nurturing emerging talent. 

For Ochoa, there was always more to life than golf. She retired from competition at the age of 28 in 2010 – when she was still Number 1 in the world – to start a family with husband Andres Conesa and also launch her foundation. 

A decade later, she is a proud mother of three and the Lorena Ochoa Foundation has put more than 5,000 underprivileged children through school in Mexico. In 2019, she was awarded the inaugural Evian Championship Prize for a Better Tomorrow presented by Rolex, in recognition of her continuing and tireless humanitarian work. 

As for 21 year-old Fassi, she and Ochoa have become close friends since that first meeting in Pachuca 13 years ago. Fassi graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2019 with the NCAA Division 1 Individual title under her belt, turned professional, and then finished 12th on her debut at the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open – an exceptional result against the world’s best players in one of women’s golf’s most famous Major championships. 

Calibres 2235, 2236 and 3235 are fitted with a self-winding module featuring a Perpetual rotor, which ensures continuous winding of the mainspring by harnessing the movements of the wrist to provide a constant source of energy. 

The Datejust’s movements can be seen only by certified Rolex watchmakers, yet they are beautifully finished and decorated in keeping with the brand’s uncompromising quality standards. 

Calibre 2236 and calibre 3235 are new-generation movements entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex for a superlative level of performance. Consummate demonstrations of Rolex technology, they offer fundamental gains in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability. 

The oscillator is fitted on high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, designed and patented by Rolex, which increase the movement’s shock resistance. Calibre 2236 features a paramagnetic nickel-phosphorus escape wheel and has a power reserve of approximately 55 hours. 

Calibre 3235 incorporates the Chronergy escapement, patented by Rolex, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. Made of nickel-phosphorus, this escapement is also insensitive to magnetic fields. Thanks to the barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of the calibre 3235 extends to approximately 70 hours. 

Depending on the version, the Datejust 31 is available on a three-piece link Oyster bracelet with a folding Oysterclasp or an elegant concealed Crownclasp; on a five-piece link Jubilee bracelet – created in 1945 especially for the Datejust – with a Crownclasp; or on a three-piece link President bracelet with a Crownclasp. The Datejust 36 and the Datejust 41 are, depending on the version, available on a three-piece link Oyster bracelet or a five-piece link Jubilee bracelet fitted with an Oysterclasp. 

Bracelets equipped with an Oysterclasp also feature the Easylink comfort extension link, developed by Rolex, which allows the wearer to easily increase the bracelet length by approximately 5 mm, for additional comfort in any circumstance. 

A concealed attachment system on the bracelet ensures seamless visual continuity between the bracelet and case. On the 18 ct gold versions of the Datejust 31, the Oyster and President bracelets include ceramic inserts inside the links to enhance their flexibility and longevity.

Rolex has also had an enduring relationship with the United States Golf Association, the organiser of the U.S. Women’s Open, dating back to 1980. The brand has gone on to become the Official Timekeeper for all five of the women’s Majors and part of the very fabric of the game. 

Fassi has joined Lopez, Ochoa and Sörenstam in the Rolex family of Testimonees. As she grows into her new role of being a global ambassador of golf, the advice she received from her idol and fellow countrywoman stays with her. 

“Now that I am on tour, Lorena says to me: ‘Don’t be looking around, just do what you do. Forget about the others and forget about what other people might think about your swing and your game. Just be you, have fun and trust your game’.” 

“Maria is a great player. She is very strong but at the same time you can tell that she is relaxed and she enjoys tournament golf. She’s learning but she does everything it takes to be a good player,” says Ochoa. “I can’t wait to see what is in the future for her, and she knows I am here to help in any way I can, even just to be a friend.” 

There is a perpetual spirit in golf, an intangible quality passed down through generations by exceptional personalities like Ochoa. It is a characteristic that aligns naturally with Rolex, which has been ever-present in the sport since 1967 when Arnold Palmer, joined by Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, became the first Rolex Testimonees in golf. These men were ‘The Big Three’ of golf and they travelled the world, building the game everywhere they went. 

Since that first pioneering handshake with Palmer, Rolex has become a committed supporter of golf, not only as the Official Timekeeper of three of the four men’s Major events and all five women’s Major events, but also the leading amateur tournaments, international federations and organisations representing all golfers. 

‘The Big Three’ remain icons of the game, on the golf course and in many ways beyond. “Arnold was a great friend and a great mentor to me,” says Nicklaus, who turned 80 in January this year. “Arnold took me under his wing. He didn’t have to, but he did.” 

Decades may have passed, yet Nicklaus still recalls a particular occasion, early during his first year on the professional circuit, in February 1962, when Palmer reached out with his trademark generosity at the Phoenix Open. 

For fellow Testimonee Justin Thomas, a seasoned tour professional despite being 18 years younger than Woods, it was a dream come true to play on Tiger’s team. 

“If you had told me when I was a junior that I would play on a Presidents Cup team with Tiger Woods as my captain, I probably would have fainted,” said Thomas, 27, a Major winner at the 2017 PGA Championship. “It’s surreal… Tiger Woods was and still is a serious role model for me. I grew up watching him.” 

A generation apart but brought together through golf and Rolex, Woods and Thomas were unbeaten as playing partners at the event, with Woods masterfully leading the US team to victory. 

Woods was regarded as the complete golfer two decades ago, when he was an athlete in his physical prime, yet it was at the 2019 Presidents Cup that he became the finished product. His own game could no longer be his sole focus. Captain Woods was an open book, sharing his experience, guiding his peers and, like Rolex, instilling the values of striving for perpetual excellence for the future of the game. 

As Fassi carries the torch from Ochoa, just as Nicklaus carried it from Palmer, so today’s established champions carry the torch from Woods. Alongside Thomas, this maturing group includes Brooks Koepka, with four Major titles by the age of 29, and Jordan Spieth, who at 26, boasts three Major titles. 

Like Thomas, Koepka and Spieth are part of the Rolex family of Testimonees, as are players knocking on the door of Major success, including Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm. This generation learned from Nicklaus, Player and Woods, and now pass down their experience to a bright new wave of talent that includes the Rolex New Guard – Americans Cameron Champ and Matthew Wolff, Joaquín Niemann from Chile, Swiss talent Albane Valenzuela and, of course, Fassi. They are the future of professional golf, striding the world stage and playing with integrity and respect inspired by those Testimonees who achieved greatness before them. 

Certainly, these golfers compete against one another – they are driven to victory and success – but the sporting rivalries are underpinned by respect and kinship, and by a shared ambition to leave a rich legacy for those who will follow them. It is an ambition they share with each other and also with Rolex. 

Reflecting at the Presidents Cup on these common bonds, Woods said: “Any time you’re able to do something that is bigger than us as individuals, it’s so much more meaningful and special.” 

Spoken like a true leader.

“Arnold was well ahead and we were playing together in the last round,” explains Nicklaus, whose dedicated pursuit of excellence in golf earned him a record haul of 18 Major titles. “By this time I had played five [professional] tournaments and hadn’t finished better than about 15th. As we walked off the 17th green he put his arm on my shoulder. Arnold was 32 and I was 22 and he said, ‘OK, now you can finish second here. Just play this hole smart, keep your composure and you could do well.’ And so I did. I birdied the hole and finished second. Arnold won by 12 shots but it was really nice that he took me under his wing. I think you’ve got to do that with your fellow competitors.” 

Australia’s Adam Scott, former World Number 1 and a Major champion at the 2013 Masters, is another Rolex Testimonee with a keen sense of the perpetual values shared by golf and Rolex. 

“In golf there is this respect that is passed down through the generations, from the senior guys to golfers like me, and it is our duty to pass it on to the next generation,” says Scott. “I am part of a generation that will tell younger players what Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player did for the game, essentially making it what it is today.” 

“The Big Three attracted companies like Rolex to the sport of golf and, as a result, today Rolex is an integral part of the game, and one of golf’s greatest supporters across all levels,” adds Scott.

Like Scott, 44 year-old Tiger Woods is a Rolex Testimonee and just one of generations of players who learned so much from The Big Three. Acclaimed as the finest player of his generation – with a collection of 15 Major titles to date that is second only to Nicklaus – Woods reached another milestone in his remarkable career in 2019 when he became captain of the United States Presidents Cup team for the first time. 

Playing against an International line-up at Royal Melbourne last December, Woods led by his actions as much as his words. The revival in his playing form over the previous couple of years was highlighted by a fifth Masters title at Augusta National Golf Club earlier in the year, a victory that ensured he would be an essential player on the 12-man team, as well as its leader. 

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HK GOLFER MAGAZINE is published by the Hong Kong Golf Association and produced by Design Circles Limited. The HKGA was formed in 1968 with a mission to govern, promote and grow golf in Hong Kong.  Responsibilities include Hong Kong national teams; junior and elite player development; grassroots initiatives; a centralised handicapping service for 15,000+ subscribers; and the running of international and domestic golfing events in Hong Kong – including more than 30 amateur tournaments each year plus the Hong Kong Open, the city’s oldest professional sporting event.

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