European Tour CEO Keith Pelley was in an unprecedented impassioned mode defending his DP World Tour against what he described as the ‘LIV Golf propaganda machine’.
Pelley used this week’s flagship BMW PGA Championship in also urging some of the greats of European golf in Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter to show respect to the DP World Tour by not ‘parroting LIV’s talking points’.
He also dismissed Garcia’s claim that the DP World Tour is a feeder tour and set to become the fifth best in the world.
“Please stop this nonsense,” Pelley said. “Is this week a tournament that would be on a feeder tour? We are unquestionably number two in the world by a country mile.
“Outside the majors and the one WGC event which now remains, our members will play for $144 million on the DP World Tour next year and that will rise through every year to $162 million by the time we get to 2027.
“In an ever-changing and challenging global landscape, I think you’ll agree that is a remarkable position for us to be in.
“We have stability for the next five years and a long-term option to continue after that for another eight years. We have certainty in an uncertain time with a very strategic partner (the PGA Tour).”
And while Pelley said he respected the decisions of players who had joined LIV, he had explained to each of them “there will be consequences” for breaking the Tour’s rules.
“Some of the players have asked how can you let players on the PGA Tour play on your tour for years, but not allow LIV players to play?” said Pelley.
“I will acknowledge over time that the PGA Tour have been a competitor, but they have been a partner at the exact same time.
“But the biggest difference is that we stayed in each other’s lanes. They didn’t stage events in Europe and we didn’t stage events in the US. LIV’s first event was in our territory in the UK and they are talking to every one of our stakeholders, every one of our partners, every one of our broadcasters.
“The Asian Tour has taken an event that we had in Morocco and LIV have made Valderrama an offer to host an event.”
While clearly disappointed with the comments of a number of LIV players, Pelley did single out former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen for handling his departure in a “professional and classy manner”.
“Louis’ not said one word against us publicly since,” Pelley said. “He’s a gentleman and I wish him nothing but the best.
“Others, however, have not conducted themselves in that way and that is my biggest personal disappointment over the past few months.”
Pelley also reiterated that the DP World Tour had not turned down the chance to partner with LIV Golf in a highly-lucrative deal, insisting the figures often quoted are “not even remotely” accurate.
“I know that many people still quote the Malta meeting and the supposed USD1 billion offer that was made to us by Golf Saudi, which is a large part of the reason behind the claim that we missed an opportunity with the Saudis,” he added.
“There’s only one word to describe that claim, and that is ‘fictitious’. I genuinely do not know how many times I can make this point.
“And 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.
“When it was reviewed by our board of directors on September 7, 2021 it was dismissed. I’d love to share the actual document with you but we have no intention of sharing a document that isn’t ours to share. In many ways I wish I could because it would put to bed all this speculation once and for all.”
Asked what he would do if a LIV player lifted the trophy on Sunday, Pelley said: “I would go up and I would shake his hand and I would say, ‘You have beaten 143 players in a 72-hole tournament, which we believe is a true testament to the game of golf.”