Rival Watchmaker Sponsorships Bring Conflict To PGA, European Tour At Ryder Cup
As the Ryder Cup tees off tomorrow in Medinah, Ill., the battle between watchmakers Rolex and Omega is "shaping up to be more acrimonious than any golf match," according to Doug Ferguson of the AP. Omega's sponsorship deal with the PGA of America, which goes through '16, gives the company marketing rights at the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup, "regarded as the biggest spectacle in golf behind the Masters." However, Omega "gets only the Ryder Cup in America." The European Tour, which has joint ownership of the Ryder Cup and negotiates its own marketing deals, has "a longtime relationship with Rolex." The PGA of America runs the Ryder Cup this year, meaning Rolex "is not allowed any presence at Medinah Country Club." Ferguson wrote the timing of Omega's deal with the PGA of America was "even more peculiar." The PGA of America and the European Tour "worked together to create one logo to be used for the Ryder Cup no matter where it's played." Previously, the logo "changed depending on which continent it was played." Five months later, the PGA of America "announced its new deal with Omega," and it "was not clear how much of a chance Rolex was given to match the offer." Omega since has signed up U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III as "an ambassador, and it presented all the American players at the Ryder Cup with a specially designed watch with a sapphire crystal case and the Ryder Cup emblem in the dial." However, American golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson "have deals with Rolex." Meanwhile, Rolex "traditionally presents the European team with watches," but European golfer Sergio Garcia "has a contract with Omega" (AP, 9/26).