The third year of the Rolex Series was the best one yet. The eight premium events, each with a minimum prize fund of USD$7 million, delivered nail-biting drama as champions were crowned in historic fashion.
Here, we breakdown the 2019 Rolex Series:
Jon Rahm re-asserted his Rolex Series dominance by adding to his collection with two massive victories. The talented Spaniard picked up his third Rolex Series title in this year’s epic Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch Golf Club. His eight under par 62 in the final round erased a five shot deficit and moved him eight spots up the leaderboard, sealing his second Irish win in three years.
For an encore, the 25-year-old then made history at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, where he built a big lead over the first three rounds, but found himself needing to make an up and down out of a greenside bunker on the final hole in order to carve his name into the record books as the winner of professional golf’s largest-ever first prize. Rahm was up to the task, and after winning the DP World Tour Championship for a second time, he now owns more Rolex Series wins, four, than any other player.
Feel the Bernd
Rahm was not the only player to collect multiple Rolex Series titles this year as Bernd Wiesberger emerged from a difficult 2018 spent rehabilitating his left wrist to claim both the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and the Italian Open.
The Austrian superstar outlasted Benjamin Hebert in a three-hole play-off to claim his first Rolex Series title, before he stole the show at the Italian Open with a final round of 65 to come from three shots back and win.
In winning two of professional golf’s most prestigious tournaments, Wiesberger, who began 2019 ranked 185th on the Official World Golf Ranking, has ascended all the way to World Number 23.
A new chapter
The 2019 Rolex Series began with a brand new addition to the premium event category. The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA took its place as the Rolex Series curtain-raiser for the first time. The event foreshadowed what was to come for Shane Lowry in 2019, who took the confidence from winning a premium event at Abu Dhabi Golf Club with him to Royal Portrush, where he stole the show en route to winning his first Major Championship.
One thing we learned in 2019 was just how powerful the autumn Rolex Series events are becoming. The BMW PGA Championship moved to September for the first time this year, and while Danny Willett and Rahm engaged in a thrilling battle down the back nine, the course they were battling on, Wentworth Golf Club, revealed itself to be a venue worthy of hosting such a prestigious tournament. Sun-drenched and surrounded by autumn colours, the West Course produced a deserving champion in Danny Willett, who earned his second Rolex Series victory after also triumphing at the 2018 DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
Under the lights
History continued to be made in the Rolex Series as the play-off for the Turkish Airlines Open title wore on. What started as a six-man affair between Victor Perez, Benjamin Hebert, Kurt Kitayama, Matthias Schwab, Erik van Rooyen and Tyrrell Hatton continued on into the darkness, and so, for the first time on the European Tour, competition under the floodlights commenced. Hatton emerged victorious in the end, collecting his second Rolex Series title and beginning his bid to represent Team Europe again when The Ryder Cup heads to Whistling Straights next year.
The third play-off in the Rolex Series took place in the season’s penultimate event, the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player. As the legendary tournament host looked on from the jam-packed grandstands, Tommy Fleetwood and Marcus Kinhult required extra holes in order to be separated. The decisive blow was dealt by Fleetwood, who converted a miraculous up and down from a short-sided position to pick up his second Rolex Series win, and his first win anywhere in almost two years. Well played Tommy.