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It's Time to Give Keith Pelley a Break

By: | Mon 24 Apr 2023

Sharing his weekly View From The Fairway column, Golfshake's Derek Clements comes to the defence of DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley

KEITH PELLEY has found himself having to defend the DP World Tour's relevance in the world game. It seems extraordinary given the fact the tour is visiting such far-flung venues as Australia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan, as well as staging a host of top events throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Incredibly, Pelley has also found himself having to defend his tour’s strategic alliance with the PGA Tour. I struggle to get my head around the criticism.

There is a perception that the alliance was formed to counter the threat posed to the game by LIV Golf. The truth of the matter is that it was announced before LIV Golf arrived on the scene. The deal was originally unveiled in 2020 - LIV Golf launched in 2022.

Yes, the alliance has been strengthened since then but the whole point of it was to provide DP World Tour members with the opportunity to play for bigger prize pots against the best golfers in the world. The Scottish Open field will rival any seen on the PGA Tour in 2023.

During a global downturn, Pelley, the Tour’s chief executive, has faced huge challenges in keeping existing sponsors and attracting new ones. 

Keith Pelley

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

That he has managed to keep the likes of Rolex and Handa on board is testimony to his skills in being able to successfully market his product - for that is what the DP World Tour is.

And what a product it is. There are those who point to the fact that the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton and Shane Lowry play most of their golf on the PGA Tour. That may be true, but they learnt their trade in Europe. 

And they still show plenty of loyalty to their home tour. In 2022, McIlroy played in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the Italian Open, Dunhill Links Championship and DP World Tour Championship and finished the year on top of the Race to Dubai. He gave the Scottish Open and Irish Open a miss but has already committed to the Irish Open in 2023. Rahm won the Open de Espana and DP World Tour Championship.

And the DP World Tour is where the likes of Matt Wallace, Thomas Detry, Aaron Rai, the Hojgaard twins, Min Woo Lee and a host of other wonderful golfers first came to prominence. Wallace won his maiden PGA Tour title in 2023, narrowly defeating Nicolai Hojgaard.

At the end of 2023 the top 10 players in the Race to Dubai will earn PGA Tour cards for the following season. The doom-mongers suggest that this is not good news for the DP World Tour. Nonsense. It offers young golfers an extra incentive to work even harder if they really want to achieve their dreams. And the best European golfers have always set their sights on playing in America. Why wouldn’t they?

The alliance between the tours has seen the PGA Tour increase its stake in the DP World Tour from 15% to 40% with a commitment to increase prize money year on year. In other words, it is in the best interests of the PGA Tour for Pelley’s organisation to be successful.

Pelley recently told the Bunkered podcast: "I think you've got a lot of people that are ill-informed. I also get amused, it's also like a lazy narrative and not factually based that people talk about the DP World not being in a strong position. And I'd love to have that conversation, because I don't know where it comes from.

"I don't think we've ever been in a stronger position, especially in the face of competition [and] especially in the face of inflation. I'd love to know, like I said, my people, my management team I say, 'You can't worry about that, that's the lazy narrative [that's] not factually based, it's easy for people to be provocative but it's also ill-informed". 

Of the leading players earning PGA Tour cards, he added: "We've now formalized that pathway, and it's phenomenal. And I can't see, and maybe it's me, but you know I can't see us when you look at it that being a bad thing. I can only see that as something that we've formalized as a pathway that was always there. 

"But I think a generalisation - and I feel strongly about this - [there is a] lazy narrative with no factual basis that we are in a lesser position than we were in 2018 or 2019. It's a generalisation. Perhaps it's because we haven't been able to speak [because of legal reasons], maybe it's because people are ill-informed, or maybe it's the fact that people want to be incredibly provocative on a social media channel." 

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Tags: european tour dp world tour

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