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Ryder Cup: The Competition for Your Wrist

Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy of Europe celebrate on the 18th green after defeating the team of Furyk/Snedeker 1up during the Morning Foursome Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.
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Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy of Europe celebrate on the 18th green after defeating the team of Furyk/Snedeker 1up during the Morning Foursome Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.

U.S. vs. Europe. Fist-pumping. Unruly fans. Legitimate drama.

In the sports world, the Ryder Cup means something.

Beginning today, outside of Chicago, the 85-year old tradition began with stars like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy.

It will be an approximately $130 million economic impact for the region. There are 1,800 credentialed media. That's not quite Super Bowl-esque — but it's close. (Read More:Will American Rookies Love the Ryder Cup?)

Upward of 40,000 people will walk the grounds in each of the three match days. On

StubHub

, tickets were going for upward of $1,200 dollars for three-day passes — more than double face value.

You get the picture.

But perhaps, the most intense competition might be for the space on players' wrists — and yours.

Rolex has long dominated golf from the sponsorship side. However, rival Omega is making inroads, and there are signs it could get nasty.

Let's start with the basics. Omega swooped in and nabbed sponsorship for the PGA of America.

That means it has signage at this weekend's Ryder Cup.

Ironically, if you look on the specific website for the competition, Omega has banner ads on Team USA's pages, but since Rolex still sponsors its European counterpart, all the Europe team pages are plastered with Rolex ads.

This kind of back-and-forth is not new in the world of sports marketing. But it appears that Rolex is taking Omega's intrusion into its space personally—or at least making it personal.

Golfing great Greg Norman has switched over to Omega, and he claims he's actually been blackballed in certain situations.

A representative for Norman tells CNBC that Norman tried to drop into a Ryder Cup news conference over the summer and was not allowed in. He was also blocked from a pro-am at the Senior British Open.

In an email, Norman called Rolex's behavior "disgraceful" and "childish".

So, the Ryder Cup is intense because professional athletes are playing for pride and patriotism -- and not money. Off the course, that is certainly not the case.

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NKE
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UA
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MSG
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DKS
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FL
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FINL
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TLGUX
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-By CNBC's Brian Shactman
@bshactman

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