Keith Pelley: Genesis Scottish Open will aspire kids to be next Sandy Lyle or Colin Montgomerie
Being held for the fourth year in a row at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian in early July, the $8 million tournament will be a ground-breaking affair as it becomes the first DP World Tour event to be co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.
As part of a Strategic Alliance between the circuits, two events in the US - the Barbasol Championship in Kentucky and the Barracuda Championship in California - will also count towards both the DP World Tour Rankings in partnership with Rolex and FedEx Cup this year.
The fields for all three tournaments will be a mix of players from both tours, with Open champion Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth, who claimed his 13th PGA Tour title on Sunday, already confirmed for the Genesis Scottish Open and more big names to come.
“The field is going to be outstanding for the Genesis Scottish Open, which feels good to say,” said Pelley, speaking exclusively to The Scotsman about a new chapter for the event after a 10-year stint with Edinburgh-based abrdn as the title sponsor.
“It is phenomenal,” added the Canadian of getting Genesis - the Korean car company already backed the Genesis Invitational, a tournament hosted by Tiger Woods, on the PGA Tour - on board for the Rolex Series event. “It’s a momentous and historic occasion as the two tours align even closer, which only makes sense at a time when sports are globalising.
“For the PGA Tour to get involved as they have with us is a real benefit not only to the DP World Tour but to European golf because the reality is our alliance with the PGA Tour now has the opportunity for us to bring higher-profile players to Europe more often.
“And, yes, that’s fantastic for us from a commercial perspective but, more importantly, it’s fantastic for the younger generation who aspire to be the next Colin Montgomerie or Sandy Lyle. Now they get to see the top players on the global stage more than once a year, which was The Open Championship, and to have our very first co-sanctioned event in Scotland is something that we are pretty excited about.”
Eleven home players teed up in last year’s event, won by Australian Min Woo Lee, but that number could be halved for the 2022 edition. As things stand, only Bob MacIntyre and recent Qatar Masters winner Ewen Ferguson are guaranteed to be flying the Saltire, with places set to be determined by the DP World Tour Rankings.
Some of those missing out could get into the Barbasol Championship, which is taking place at the same time at the Scottish Open, then stay on in the US for the following week’s Barracuda Championship if they haven’t qualified for The Open at St Andrews.
“Obviously the Barracuda and Barbasol in the US will provide playing opportunities for people who don’t get into Scotland, which is critical for us,” added Pelley. “Because now there’s going to be people in the top 110 in the Race to Dubai who’ve always got into the Scottish Open or Rolex Series events, but now you have got to get inside the top 60 or 70 to guarantee yourself a spot.”
Some people have still to be convinced about the DP World Tour hitching wagons with the PGA Tour, claiming the alliance leans heavily towards the other side of the Atlantic and could prove detrimental to the European game in the long run.
“I think they will see the positive side after this year’s edition of the Genesis Scottish Open,” insisted Pelley. “I tend to look at the positives in all facets of my professional and personal life and I think there are positives in this in terms of the opportunities for our players to be showcased on a global stage and for players to play in an event that is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.
“The reality is that Scotland is the spiritual home of golf and America is the commercial home of golf and now we are bringing the two together and that’s exciting for us and it’s exciting for the young players who’ll get to play at a level that is being elevated.
“We thought that Scotland would provide the best opportunity for the US players to come over and not disrupt the PGA Tour schedule. It’s also a phenomenal tune up for the The Open Championship, so it was the natural choice.”
After a spell of it being moved around the country - it was staged at Castle Stuart, Royal Aberdeen, Gullane and Dundonald Links after leaving Loch Lomond - the American-owned Renaissance Club has become the event’s current home, with Pelley praising the Sarvadi brothers for continuing to invest in the venue.
“This is going to be our fourth year and the reality is that every single year the golf course has gotten better,” he said. “The unwavering commitment of the Sarvadi brothers to make TRC a better experience for the players and to make it a much better golf course, bringing in Padraig Harrington in an advisory role, is something I think will make it even more successful this year.
“The event will also be showcased in a different way based on it now being a DP World Tour and PGA Tour event, meaning the exposure you are going to get in the US through the CBS coverage is going to be grander.”
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