Departing DP World Tour boss takes not-so-subtle dig at PGA Tour stars

Departing DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley says the U.S. is starting to realise men's professional golf needs to 'go global'. 

Ben Smith's picture
Tue, 16 Jan 2024
Departing DP World Tour boss takes not-so-subtle dig at PGA Tour stars

Departing DP World Tour boss Keith Pelley has warned the PGA Tour and its stars to embrace global golf should the North American circuit truly want to ratify the peace agreement with LIV Golf's backers. 

Pelley, 60, confirmed before the Dubai Invitational he will be leaving his role as chief executive of the European Tour Group in April.

Unsurprisingly, Pelley will be replaced by his number two Guy Kinnings. 

The Canadian has decided to return to his homeland to become the president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. 

His decision to leave his current role has been met with a mixed reaction. 

Rory McIlroy reckons it's too soon to judge his tenure.

And former U.S. Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick claimed he will only be remembered for giving away the leading 10 players from the DP World Tour to the PGA Tour. 

Others, such as Robert MacIntyre, have heaped praise on Pelley. 

Pelley has confirmed he will be staying on his role for three months because he has real confidence the 6 June framework agreement between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund can be agreed. 

PGA Tour policy board member Webb Simpson stated in a recent interview a deal is 'a matter of weeks away' from being announced

"Our goal is to unify the game," Pelley told the Guardian's Ewan Murray

"I don't think all of the dialogue that has happened has been positive for the game and I think that the game is growing at a rapid pace coming out of Covid.

"The professional game needs to be unified to capitalise on the growth of the amateur game. There's so many wonderful things happening in our game.

"That's what the whole concept was behind the framework agreement, and I think some of the top players in the US are starting to realise that that's exactly what the purpose of the framework agreement was. 

"It was to unify the game. Unfortunately after that framework agreement, some of the top players in the United States didn't support it, which we needed them to support.

"I think they are realising now that the best way forward is to unify the game. I think we will know the direction of travel over the next couple of months."

Pelley could be referring to the likes of Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods

All three players sit on the PGA Tour's policy board.

There have been reports the high-profile golfers have attempted to freeze out the Saudis and go it alone by engaging in discussions with U.S.-based private equity investors. 

Jon Rahm joining LIV Golf last December was a timely reminder the Saudis aren't going anywhere in the sport. 

SSG, a consortium of U.S.-based professional sports team investors led by Fenway Sports Group, owners of Liverpool and the Boston Red Sox, are now involved in the deal to create a new, for-profit golf company. 

"I respect the decision"

Pelley also told the publication he understood Rahm's decision to join LIV. 

He said: "Jon is a great champion and I respect the decision that he made for his family.

"If the game didn't unify, I would be quite disappointed. I've believed that we should unify and all work together. I've believed that for years.

"So I was overjoyed with what transpired in June, and that was the right direction.

"I still believe it’s the right direction. What that means in terms of what the product looks like down the road, that's the second step."

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