We may have only played three of the eight Rolex Series events on the European Tour this season, but each has been very memorable in its own right.
Of the trio, we have seen two first-time Rolex Series winners in Shane Lowry – at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA – and Bernd Wiesberger – at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.
In between those two events, we also saw Jon Rahm collect his third Rolex Series title and his second Dubai Duty Free Irish Open crown in three years.
Here we examine some of the notable subplots from Abu Dhabi, Ireland and Scotland.
Rahm’s crazy Rolex Series record
There is something about the Rolex Series which brings out the very best in Rahm. Two years ago, Rahm opened his European Tour account with victory at the Irish Open in what was his rookie season. The Spaniard capped a remarkable 2017 campaign by claiming another Rolex Series title at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai before going on to win the Open de España on home soil in 2018.
Rahm showed the Irish crowds what he was capable of once again at Lahinch this year, following up rounds of 67, 71 and 64 with a closing 62 to win by two shots and become the first man to claim three Rolex Series titles.
And when he is not winning, he is coming pretty close. With three victories, six top fives and seven top tens in eight starts, Rahm has amassed a remarkable €4,185,931 in Rolex Series events – averaging €523,241 every time he tees it up in the premium series.
Last year Brandon Stone rolled into the history books, shooting the lowest round in Rolex Series history with a stunning closing ten under par 60 to win the Scottish Open.
Fast forward 12 months and there have been not one, not two but three more ten under par scores – with Robert Rock carding 60 at Lahinch, Wiesberger shooting a 61 at Renaissance Club, while Lowry signed for a 62 during the opening round in Abu Dhabi.
Such an abundance of excellent scoring has led to fierce competition with each event going right down to the wire – Rahm’s Ireland triumph the only event to be decided by more than one shot.
An 72nd hole birdie. A final day 62. A play-off. That is what has settled the three Rolex Series events this season.
For Lowry it came down to the par-five 18th at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where only his best would seal victory, and after ripping a three wood to ten feet a two-putt birdie would lead to a one-shot win over Richard Sterne.
A heroic final day was required for Rahm in Ireland too, who started the fourth round five shots behind leader Robert Rock.
What followed, was an incredible final round of golf.
After bagging eight birdies and an eagle for a closing 62, the 24-year-old rose through the field to seal a two-stroke win – much to the delight of the Irish crowds, where the Spaniard is fast becoming a fans’ favourite.
Wiesberger would have to overcome France’s Benjamin Hebert in a play-off at the third attempt for his victory in Scotland.
Hebert had posted a final round of 62 and set the clubhouse target at 22-under-par. The Austrian did edge ahead, but a bogey at 17 and a clutch par at the last sent the event to extra holes.
Both men made par at the first play-off hole, with Hebert missing a short putt for victory at the second playing of the 18th.
A three-putt from Hebert would then open the door for Wiesberger, and he duly holed out to collect his first Rolex Series title and his second win of the season.
Next up in the eight-event series is the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, with the Italian Open closely following a few weeks later, before the season concludes with a three-week Rolex Series stretch of the Turkish Airlines Open, Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player and the season ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
Plenty more drama, guaranteed.