DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley has highlighted Rory McIlroy's playing schedule as he hit back at critics suggesting the former Old World circuit is in a significantly weaker position given their ties to the PGA Tour in the face of LIV Golf.
Pelley has come under a barrage of criticism from the keyboard warriors and even his own members since the emergence of the rival tour led by Greg Norman last June.
The DP World Tour's heavily debated 'strategic alliance' with the PGA pre-dates the arrival of the Saudi-backed league, but in the very same month LIV Golf launched the former European Tour decided to strengthen their ties with the established, North American circuit.
Was this a mistake? Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
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A 13-year operational joint venture partnership was unveiled, running through to 2035. The previous deal was announced in November 2020.
The joint venture saw the PGA Tour increase their stake in European Tour Productions from 15 per cent to 40 per cent.
Amongst other things, there was a commitment to annually increase prize funds.
In the fine print there was a clear pathway for DP World Tour players to earn PGA Tour playing rights as the leading 10 players at the end-of-season Race to Dubai Rankings will earn PGA Tour cards for the following season.
LIV Golf players such as Lee Westwood have highlighted this, appearing to believe it's unwise for the circuit to essentially give their best players away.
But Pelley? He believes they are just formalizing a pathway that already existed.
He recently joined the bunkered podcast where he chatted to Michael McEwan about what has transpired over the last 12 months.
Pelley will feel emboldened given their recent triumph as Sports Resolutions UK determined the circuit was right to impose sanctions on the players who played in the opening LIV event without permission.
Those players are free to return if they pay their fines, but going forward it seems unlikely those players will ever feature again given their schedule.
Pelley told the 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.
"How many times did Rory
[McIlroy] play last year?!"
Pelley and the host discussed what being in a strong position looked like.
Then he added:
"Rory played in 2022. He played in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, he played the Italian Open, he played the Dunhill, he played the DP World Tour Championship. Yet he didn't play Genesis and he didn't play the Genesis Scottish Open or the Horizon Irish Open. This year, he's obviously throwing in the Horizon Irish Open. So, what I'm saying is, those players are still going to play. We're now working with the PGA Tour. They've changed their schedule, I think it provides us an opportunity. I guess we're going to have to wait and see what the opportunity is and how we reveal that in July [when the DP World Tour release their schedule].
"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."
You can listen to the whole podcast by clicking here
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