The Open uses NTT DATA’s AI and video technology to create a virtual Championship of golfing greats from across the decades

The Open for The Ages will pit the best golfers of the past 50 years against each other using archive footage and historic data in a virtual golf championship.

July 13, 2020

NTT DATA Corporation

13 July 2020 -NTT DATA today announced it is working together with The R&A, organisers of The Open, to leverage its data and AI technology to create a virtual championship of the golfing greats from the past 50 years. The event will use archive footage and data in a virtual “live” golf championship, which will take place between 16th-19th July, when The Open was due to take place.

With many of this year’s traditional sporting events cancelled or postponed, including The 149th Open at Royal St George’s, this dramatised virtual competition uses NTT DATA’s technology to analyse historic data from past editions of The Open to create a baseline of performance on which to compare the golfing greats between 1970 and the current day. This data, along with spectator voting and engagement, has created a new exciting TV and digital experience for golf fans everywhere: The Open for The Ages.

The Open for The Ages will give golf enthusiasts a chance to immerse themselves in a revolutionary golfing experience. Featuring some of golf’s greatest players, including Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, it will be the first digital sporting event of its kind to pit the greatest players of all time against each other in a single golf championship. The Open for The Ages will be supported by a digital and social media campaign featuring ‘in-play’ clips, leaderboards and statistics over the first three days, in the lead up to the final round being broadcast live on Sunday 19th July, when the outright winner will be revealed.

As a patron of The Open for the past seven years, NTT DATA has pioneered progressive in-venue fan technology with innovations such as the NTT DATA Wall which displays data and analytics from all the holes in one place, ensuring spectators never miss any of the action.

This year, The R&A has leveraged NTT DATA’s experience in video AI technology to create compelling new content, using archive footage in innovative and exciting ways to bring the history of this great event to life, while data analytics tools have been implemented to analyse thousands of shots played by the pros over the years. These technologies have given The R&A the insights to help them imagine The Open for The Ages.

Neil Armit, CCO at The R&A, commented: “The Open for The Ages is a world-first and a must-watch for golf fans. We have utilised technology to create a compelling concept that brings together golf’s greatest champions from the last 50 years and imagine a Championship contested over the iconic Old Course at St Andrews.

“For the first time, video AI has enabled us to compare and analyse the swings of players from the 1970s through to the modern day golfer. We have also been able to use technology to analyse scorecards and historic data to give us a baseline of information on which to create this concept. In NTT DATA, we had the ideal technology partner to support us in turning our ideas into a reality.”

Walter Ruffinoni, Co-CEO of NTT DATA EMEA, commented: “NTT DATA has been a patron of The Open for a number of years now, providing technological capabilities behind the scenes as well as producing the NTT DATA Wall, an interactive fan engagement installation for The Open. We are passionate about giving spectators and sports fans the best digital enhancements to their experience. We are privileged to work on a first with The R&A, with all its history, especially in a year that the pandemic has caused The Open to be cancelled.”

“Building stronger fan engagement through technology is the future of sports and while it will never replace the enjoyment of live events, technology will play an increasingly central role to the experience.”

The Open for The Ages will be broadcast on Sunday 19th July, at 11am BST on Sky Sports, 6am EDT on the Golf Channel and 7pm on Japan Golf Network.

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