A few days before striking his first ball in competitive team golf something happened that allowed Thomas Bjørn to fully appreciate the scale, depth and meaning of The Ryder Cup. Just hours before the start of play, the late Severiano Ballesteros, the European Team Captain for the 1997 edition of the biennial trans-Atlantic golf tournament, handed Bjørn a commemorative Rolex watch. Looking back, of all the special memories he enjoyed as he became the first ever Dane to play in the competition, it was the limited-edition timepiece, with his name engraved on the back, that came to mean the most. Given solely to those selected to play by the team captain, for him it was a defining moment, a sign he had arrived at the very pinnacle of golf.
“That moment, when Ballesteros presented me with a Rolex watch, symbolises what makes The Ryder Cup so special,” Bjørn recalls. “The captain usually gives them to the players on the Tuesday night of the tournament week. It’s a unique moment for the entire team, very symbolic considering the scale and nature of the event and what Rolex has done for the game of golf.”