DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley has hit back at criticism of the circuit from an unnamed player in the build-up to last week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Pelley addressed the media ahead of this week’s Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club. Even though he didn’t mention the player by name, it is likely he was referring to comments made by LIV Golf star Lee Westwood who, last week, described a memo from the Tour as 'propaganda’ and questioned the strength of the competition.
Pelley said: “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. 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."
Westwood criticised the approach of the DP World Tour as the date for a hearing to determine the fate of LIV Golf players on the Tour draws close. He said: “There was a message sent out the other day to players. It was just propaganda aimed at stoking up tensions between players who aren’t with LIV against those who are with LIV. Why do that? Just wait for the hearing and then go from there. There has been no animosity to me from other players. It’s only come from one place [the tour].”
He then turned his attentions to the strength of last week’s tournament, saying: “I’m not sure where the European Tour is now. If you’d have told me that I’d be playing in a $9 million tournament on tour I’d struggle to believe you. But then if you also told me there would only be one member of the world’s top-20 in the field, I’d think you were mad.”
While it's true that the tournament only featured one player from the world’s top 20 – Shane Lowry – Pelley explained it is too narrow an approach to judge its strength on that basis alone. He said: “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.
“You are looking at it very narrowly. 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.”
Pelley also questioned the criticisms of the Tour from LIV Golf players given their apparent reluctance to find fault with the start-up. He said: “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.”
There is a possibility that this week’s Dubai Desert Classic could be Westwood’s swan song on the DP World Tour, with the hearing to determine the future of LIV Golf players on it beginning on 6 February.
Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories.
He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game.
Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course.
Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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