Keith Pelley slams 'inaccuracies' in open letter from LIV Golf players

Keith Pelley, the DP World Tour chief executive, has taken a swipe at some of the LIV Golf players trying to overturn a ban from next week’s Genesis Scottish Open in East Lothian

It came as Pelley issued a statement in response to a story first reported by the Daily Telegraph about 16 Liv Golf players signing an open letter to him.

The letter called for their Genesis Scottish Open ban to be lifted, as well as £100,000 fines for each player after they played in the inaugural LIV Golf event at Centurion Club without an official release.

In his statement, Pelley said: “There has been a leak to the media of a letter we received on behalf of a number of LIV Golf players which contains so many inaccuracies that it cannot remain unchallenged.

CEO of the PGA European Tour Keith Pelley has hit back at an open letter from 16 LIV Golf players. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

“Before joining LIV Golf, players knew there would be consequences if they chose money over competition. Many of them at the time understood and accepted that. Indeed, as one player named in the letter said in a media interview earlier this year; ‘If they ban me, they ban me.’ It is not credible that some are now surprised with the actions we have taken.

“The letter claims that these players ‘care deeply’ for the DP World Tour. An analysis of the past participation statistics on our Tour in recent years of several of the leading players named, suggests otherwise.

“One player in particular named in the note has only played six Rolex Series events in the past five years. Another one, only four. I wish many of them had been as keen to play on our Tour then as they seem to be now, based on the fact they have either resigned their membership of the PGA TOUR or, if they are still in membership, have been suspended indefinitely.

“Furthermore, given how deeply these players say they care about the DP World Tour, perhaps some of them could have played in Ireland this week in support of our new title sponsor, in particular one player who gave us a signed commitment to play at Mount Juliet.

“With that player currently in action at Pumpkin Ridge (where the second LIV Golf event started on Thursday), you can imagine the allegation in the letter that we are in the wrong, is hard to accept.”

Earlier this week, the DP World Tour and PGA Tour announced a new 13-year partnership, which will include 10 PGA Tour cards being up for grabs directly through the DP World Tour from 2023.

Referring to that, Pelley added: “We also take great exception to an allegation made near the end of the letter which states we are somehow playing ‘second fiddle’ to the PGA Tour. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“We held a player meeting in Ireland on Tuesday where we outlined in great detail all the many benefits of our expanded relationship with the PGA Tour.

“One of those is an unprecedented ten cards on offer to the PGA Tour, cards that many of the players named in this letter desperately wanted to attain in the early stages of their careers. Why now be critical of those trying to do the same?

“The letter also expresses supposed concern about the future of the DP World Tour. Rest assured no-one should have any worries on that score.

“The DP World Tour is a vibrant, independent and global Tour with increasing and guaranteed prize fund growth over the next five years. We have fantastic tournaments across the year including a host of wonderful national Opens, all played in front of huge crowds, illustrated perfectly by this week’s Horizon Irish Open.”

Though no direct reference was made to the Genesis Scottish Open, it appears that the DP World Tour is not about to back down.

“Finally, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on any potential legal matters,” said Pelley.

“I will simply reiterate that our Members’ Regulations which have been in force for more than 30 years, have been accepted by all the players, are there to protect all of our members, and we will use them to take all necessary steps to protect their interests.

“The sanctions for those members who knowingly broke our rules by playing at the Centurion Club without a release are proportionate, fair and, I believe, considered necessary by the majority of our members.”

Former world No 1 Lee Westwood and Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter are among the LIV Golf players who signed the open letter.

It read: “We agree, and we are concerned that the actions of the tour against us, LIV Golf, and golf in general will have adverse consequences on the DP World Tour, a tour and an organisation that, despite our recent interactions, we care deeply for.

“Instead of spending our time, energy, financial resources, and focus on appeals, injunctions, and lawsuits, we would implore you, the custodians of the DP World Tour, to reconsider your recent penalties and sanctions, and instead focus our energies on forging a path forward that is better for the DP World Tour members and the game of golf.

“To this end, we ask that you rescind your fines and suspensions by 5:00 pm on Friday, July 1, 2022.

“In addition, we represent over 5 percent of the DP World Tour membership and, under its articles of association, we ask you to convene a meeting of Tour membership to discuss these important matters further.

“If not, you will leave us with no choice but to employ the various other means and methods at our disposal to rectify these wrongs.”

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