Tour chief Pelley: Wentworth was in danger of losing the PGA
European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley has revealed Wentworth’s future as the host of the BMW PGA Championship “would have been in jeopardy” without the revamp of the West course.
The tour’s finest have descended on the Surrey venue for the flagship tournament with all eyes on the £5 million redevelopment that has transformed the Harry Colt layout in the last 12 months.
Pelley has hailed the investment from Wentworth’s owners, Reignwood Group, and is looking forward to hearing feedback from the players at the end of the week.
He said: “Credit to the ownership at Wentworth for not only investing in it but also giving a real unique group the control and to represent the players,” he said.
“That’s really what the likes of Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn and David Jones – bringing them in and then working so well with the Ernie Els group – is a testament to the belief and support that Reignwood and Wentworth gave.
“Because if Wentworth hadn’t made this type of commitment, what we were hearing from the players, and making a decision on whether you play or not, is that a lot of it comes back to the golf course.
“If we hadn’t made these changes, then I do fear the tournament here at Wentworth would have been in jeopardy.”
Pelley added: “It’ll be interesting to see what all our players say about it after the tournament. There’s no question that all the world class players have a plethora of opportunities to play.
“But one of the decisions when they are determining their schedule is the golf course and the amenities around it.
“I do believe that the amenities here are spectacular and we’ve now addressed the golf course – so it’s a very positive step for us.”
With the exception of the injured Rory McIlroy, the field is the strongest for a number of years – with the likes of Ian Poulter, previously a vocal critic of the course, among those taking part.
Pelley believes it all bodes well for a thrilling start to the new Rolex Series, which he is convinced will help elevate the European Tour.
“We’ve got the Olympic champion, the Open champion, the former Masters champion – it just goes on and on,” he said.
“It’s a great field and it is going to be a great tournament. We are excited about it. What we need now is some great weather and hopefully we will see some great golf and be entertained in all facets of the tournament.”
Pelley continued: “Rolex have been a terrific partner of the European Tour and a great supporter of golf worldwide and I think that we’re optimistic this will really be a game changer for us.
“I think it will elevate the entire tour, and the brand of the tour, which will help all our other tournaments. It’s an important initiative for us and it’s great to see support for our players.”