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keith pelley golf

Monahan, Malta and McIlroy: Key takeaways from Keith Pelley’s latest interview

Keith Pelley spoke about Jon Rahm, Jay Monahan, LIV Golf and many other topics in his most recent interview with the Times…

 

You could spend weeks debating and tormenting yourself over the unresolved issues in professional golf.

Outgoing DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley addressed many of these in a recent interview with the Times.

The Canadian, who will leave his post at the start of April, believes the formerly-named European Tour has been rebuilt under his stewardship and he has “absolutely no regrets” after eight and a half years serving the circuit.

Both praise and criticism have come his way during what has been a period of difficulty in which Pelley had to weather the storm of COVID-19 and the threat of LIV Golf to the tour’s standing in the game’s pecking order.

From turning down a Saudi offer before the inception of LIV Golf to his opinion on underfire PGA Tour boss Jay Monahan, Pelley covered a plethora of topics as he prepares to return to his home country to become President and chief executive of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

We have picked out eight key points that Pelley spoke about:

keith pelley golf

Keith Pelley: DP World Tour has been ‘rebuilt’

In June 2022, the DP World Tour announced an expansion of the strategic alliance with the PGA Tour until 2035.

The small print of this deal stated that the PGA Tour would provide operational support and additional investments to the DP World Tour.

In August 2023, the European circuit announced the prize money for the 2024 season would increase to a record $117 million across a minimum of 44 tournaments.

“I have absolutely no regrets – We have rebuilt the tour,” he said. “Our business is fully underpinned by the strategic alliance with PGA Tour and prize funds are at a record level in the midst of an economic crisis and a new entrant into our sport. I’m not sure how you put a negative spin on that.”

A global tour is ‘inevitable’

Since the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour announced the framework agreement with the Public Investment Fund, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund that bankrolls LIV Golf, there has been an assumption that the game will be unified under the same umbrella again one day.

This is yet to happen, but Pelley believes a “collective product” is best for the sport in the years to come.

“Whether it be in six months, a year, two years or 10 years, I think people are coming to the realisation that a collective product is in the best interest of global golf.

“It is the only way growth and prize funds continue at this level. It is inevitable.”

The same wavelength as Rory

Rory McIlroy has cooled his hostile stance towards LIV Golf in the new year. From saying he hated the breakaway tour, he now believes LIV players should be able to return without punishment.

The Northern Irishman has also touted the idea of a ‘World Tour’ featuring the world’s best players. Pelley revealed that McIlroy’s role since LIV Golf’s birth has been crucial…

“They’re entitled to their opinion but I’m very much aligned with Rory.

“Rory is the player I have leant on the most, going back to the beginning of (the saga with LIV Golf). You need people who aren’t afraid to say what they really think.”

Let’s get this straight about Malta…

In 2021, the DP World Tour were given a presentation by representatives of LIV Golf in Malta, or what was called Super League Golf at the time.

NCG understands that both Pelley and incoming tour chief executive Guy Kinnings were present and what was offered was essentially an opportunity to become a shareholder in LIV Golf.

The tour was offered equity in the league and the teams which could’ve amounted to what NCG understands to be $800 million.

Pelley addressed this meeting and these figures, and offered his view on the matter:

“That whole fallacy around Malta is an irritation. We looked at it analytically in every possible way. I can only say it so many times. The rumours become almost factual.

“I have heard there was $500 million guaranteed, $1 billion guaranteed, even $2 billion. It’s just not true. And even if it was, we’d already (begun the strategic alliance) with the PGA Tour in 2020.”

‘I don’t have any relationship with them’

In April 2023, a Sports Resolutions UK panel granted the DP World Tour the right to fine and suspend players who left the tour to join LIV Golf.

Players such as Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia subsequently resigned their memberships to avoid more financial sanctions building up.

Pelley said he no longer has a relationship with some of the defectors and also revealed that some DP World Tour members believed the punishments handed down were too light.

“I have no problem with anybody making a decision about what is best for them but I don’t want them to begrudge the decisions we made in the best interest of the tour.

“I don’t have any relationship with them but that’s to be expected. It’s just business, it’s not a popularity contest. Some players on this side think we weren’t hard enough on them.”

ALSO: Sergio Garcia must cough up $1 million-plus fines to rejoin DP World Tour

Defending the PGA Tour card policy

In 2023, the DP World Tour adopted a policy whereby the top 10 players in the Race to Dubai rankings would get a PGA Tour card in 2024 if they didn’t already have one.

When this initiative was announced, questions surrounded the tour’s approach. Is it a good idea to usher your best players out of the door?

Using Matthieu Pavon as an example, Pelley defended this policy:

“I just can’t figure out how anybody can criticise the 10 cards. Look at what it has done to Matthieu Pavon. He played brilliantly down the stretch to acquire his PGA Tour card.

“He went over to America, won (the Farmers Insurance Open), and is now in all four majors, and when he comes back to play in the France Open, he’s a much bigger star than if he’d stayed here the whole year.

“Our job is to provide earning potential for the members and those 10 players will earn a minimum of £500,000 each. I just don’t see any negatives in that.

“It’s not reality. The players want to get to America. We’re not in the 1970s and the 1980s.”

keith pelley golf

What about Jay Monahan?

PGA Tour chief executive Jay Monahan came under fire when announcing a proposed deal with the PIF last summer – the very entity that funds LIV Golf which Monahan had spent the previous year rallying against.

With a sense of betrayal emerging in the PGA Tour membership, criticism was aimed the 53-year-old’s way so much so that he stepped away from his duties in a “medical situation.”

Having taken leave on June 13, 2023, Monahan returned on July 17 and Pelley complemented his American counterpart:

“I have a ton of time for Jay. His resilience is unwavering to do the right thing and I believe a lot of the criticism he’s received is unfounded.”

Majors and the Ryder Cup

When Jon Rahm jumped ship for LIV Golf in December 2023, attentions turned to his future participation in the Ryder Cup for Team Europe.

The next edition is in 2025 and by then, it is difficult to say if Rahm will still be a DP World Tour member and what punishments he will face before fulfilling his obligations to be eligible for Luke Donald’s side.

Pelley briefly spoke to Rahm’s future in the biennial dust-up with the USA, as well as the currrent major debate, which was recently ignited by LIV Golf’s Talor Gooch who said a McIlroy win at the Masters would need an asterisk as he believes there are LIV players not in the field who should be playing.

“Of course you want Jon Rahm to play in the Ryder Cup but qualification doesn’t start until September, so it’s a hypothetical,” he said.

“And the majors will always be the majors. One or two players not being there will not affect their legacy whatsoever. And as I say, I’m convinced the game will be unified, so these questions will go

away.”

NOW READ: Blanked by Tiger! Six talking points from Jon Rahm’s latest interview

What do you make of these Keith Pelley golf views? Tell NCG on X/Twitter!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spent time with some of the biggest names in the sport.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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