By Andrea Montolivo
Chicago, USA, Jun 17 (EFE).- The US Open has made its return to The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., one of the oldest golf clubs in the world, where luxury is on full display thanks to lucrative sponsorship deals with watch brands, carmakers, whisky companies and tech.
Some of these companies have their own stands for the elite spectators heading to watch the Open and their multi-million dollar deals help drive a prize fund of over $12 million.
The US Open, part of the traditional PGA Tour, tees off amid fresh controversy stirred by the launch of the LIV Golf series, the high-paying professional series backed by Saudi Arabia.
Spanish golfer Jon Rahm, defending US Open champion, made his sentiments on the LIV series clear on Tuesday.
“I play for the love of the game, and I want to play against the best in the world. I’ve always been interested in history and legacy, and right now the PGA Tour has that,” he told reporters.
Known for its demanding course, The Country Club registered a huge demand for tickets.
The most exclusive stands on offer sold out days ago while general admission tickets vary between $400 to $10,000.
It makes for a miniature economic boom in the region near Boston, which is also hosting the NBA Finals between the Celtics and the Golden State Warriors and where hotel prices have rocketed to more than $200 per night.
A LONG LIST OF SPONSORS
Rolex, a sponsor of the US Open since 1980, Lexus, American Express, Deloitte, Cisco and Dewar’s whisky are just some of the big brand sponsorships at the tournament.
Some have paid for prime advertising along the 18 holes while Lexus and American Express have their own areas with customer experiences such as car simulators.
To mark the occasion, Dewar’s released a limited edition bottle of 19-year-old, American oak cask aged whisky and is the official cocktail sponsor of the event.
STEEPED IN TRADITION
Faced with the existential threat posed by LIV Golf, which has already attracted names such as Sergio García and Dustin Johnson, the PGA is relying on its more than 120 years of history.
Rahm’s defense of the tournament on Tuesday went further: “To be honest, part of the format (of LIV Golf) is not really appealing to me. Shotgun, three days to me is not a golf tournament.
It’s that simple, I want to play against the best in the world in a format that has been going on for hundreds of years.”
The Country Club, which opened in 1882, has hosted four US Opens, in 1913, 1963, 1988 and 2022, as well as a Ryder Cup in 1999.
The winner of the first US Open in 1895, Briton Horace Rawlins, took home a check for $150 and a medal worth $50.
The full prize pot that year for the 11 participants — 10 professionals and one amateur — was $335.