Keith Pelley, the chief executive of the DP World Tour, has said comments relating to the supposed weakness of the organisation are “unfair” to his staff.
Lee Westwood, who is in his 30th season on the former European Tour despite joining the breakaway LIV circuit, expressed concerns last week as just one player from the world’s top 20 teed up at the Abu Dhabi Championship. Westwood referenced “propaganda” from Pelley. The Englishman and fellow LIV players will have their challenge to DP World Tour sanctions heard in a sporting arbitration case next month.
While Pelley did not mention Westwood by name, he disclosed discussions that took place during a post-tournament function in Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening. “It was staggering how many people came up to me and said they were disappointed with the comments made by a player earlier in the week and that it was unfair to the staff,” he said. “I found that really, really interesting. I wasn’t quite aware how upset the staff were. As our staff said, they think the comments are unfair and I don’t think they are accurate.
“Any comment that comes out now, I think of our staff and members. Not about me. The comments that were made, outside the factual of the top 20, about where the tour is … you all know it has never been healthier or stronger. I can’t say that any more times.”
Pelley believes it is wrong for world ranking status of fields to be used as the sole basis for assessing tournaments. “You are looking at it very narrowly,” he said. “It’s certainly a component but I look at it overall. The Abu Dhabi event now has become like the DP World Tour Championship, we have always thought of it like F1, where it is a social happening. It’s on the calendar. That doesn’t demean top players but it is another metric for success. I look at it through a broad lens.
“We are also going through a transition phase and 2024 will look a lot different. The barometer of determining a successful tournament goes way beyond the top 20.”
Pelley could not resist a dig at LIV members. “What some people have said to me over the last couple of months is that it is amazing none of the competitors on the new tour have ever said anything [negative] about their tour. It’s really quite impossible that they don’t have opinions and that every single thing is right in year one.”
Pelley said he, the DP World Tour’s chief operating officer, Keith Waters, and the PGA Tour’s commissioner, Jay Monahan, have recused themselves from judgment on LIV’s application for world ranking recognition. “We are not involved in it, are not discussing it and will have no influence in the OWGR [Official World Golf Ranking] as far as LIV goes,” he said. LIV’s fate thereby sits in the hands of the four majors.