Keith Pelley: DP World Tour is No 2 tour in world by a country mile

Keith Pelley came out of his corner throwing punches as he issued a passionate defence of the DP World Tour in the face of what he described as the “LIV Golf propaganda machine”.

DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley speaks  during a press conference prior to the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Picture: Luke Walker/Getty Images.
DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley speaks during a press conference prior to the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Picture: Luke Walker/Getty Images.

In a 45-minute press conference at Wentworth on the eve of the BMW PGA Championship, which has 18 LIV Golf players in the field, Pelley spoke both openly and passionately about golf’s civil war.

The Canadian came across particularly strong when he responded to a claim by Sergio Garcia, one of the LIV Golf rebels, that the DP World Tour is “going to become the fifth best tour in the world” as a result of its strategic alliance with the PGA Tour.

“One of our members who is playing here this week actually said that,” commented the circuit’s chief executive. “It’s unbelievable. We are unquestionably the No 2 tour in the world by a country mile.

“Let’s look at the facts. If the metrics were determining the top tours in the world is just money, then the No 1 tour is the PGA Tour. Always has been.

“You could argue that the LIV Invitational Series is No 2. But the Asian Tour $22.5m, Korn Ferry $20m, Japan $28m, Australia $5.8m, Sunshine Tour $7.4m. Totalling all their prize funds together comes to just half of our tour.

“So, even if the only metric is money, how possibly could we ever become No5? Yet one of our players said we are on the way to being No 5. Wow.”

Pelley, who addressed a players’ meeting on Tuesday evening, hit out at “irrational and ludicrous comments on social media”, which he claimed are deliberate attempts to “sabotage the narrative”.

He went on: “As I said to our partners and sponsors on a Zoom call last week, it is easy to get dragged down by the LIV propaganda machine, churning out negative news stories and misinformation about the poor state of the traditional golfing world, including our tour.

“It’s just not right. And let me make this perfectly clear; nothing could be further from the truth. We are in excellent shape and set to get even stronger.”

Outside of the majors and the one remaining World Golf Championship, DP World Tour members will play for $144 million next year and that will rise to $162 million by 2027. The schedule will be “transformed” in 2024, when less events will be played but for bigger prize pots.

“We have that opportunity now with the new investment from the PGA Tour,” said Pelley. “We started meetings yesterday morning with the PGA Tour on the 2024 schedule, how we are aligning on that.

“So there's a lot to come on it, but I think if you talk to any of the Tournament Committee members, they are energised about it, and we are going to do it with them. It's exciting.

“We will elevate the Challenge Tour as well in terms of prize fund, but there will be less events for more money at each event geared towards getting stronger fields and giving the young and up-and-coming players a chance to play.”

While Pelley acknowledged that the DP World Tour had “brought Golf Saudi into the game”, he dismissed suggestions that he’d walked away from a $1 billion deal to partner with the Saudis.

“There’s only one word to describe that claim and that is ‘fictitious,’” he declared. “You can ask any member of our board of directors, and they will unanimously confirm that it was not an offer, it was not a deal, it was merely a marketing presentation put together on behalf of Golf Saudi.

“I often get the question, why can’t we work with both the PGA Tour and the Saudis. We tried. But the Saudis remain determined to set up a new series outside of the current ecosystem. That decision has created the conflict we see today and we chose to partner with the leading tour in the game.”

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