Pelley Denies $1bn Saudi Offer

The head of the DP World Tour Keith Pelley has been a quiet voice throughout much of the LIV Golf fall-out but he had his say ahead of this week's PGA Championship at Wentworth. All the pre-tournament talk centred around the 15 LIV players who were featuring over the West Course, some for the first time, and Pelley was quizzed on all matters of the tour (as long as that meant solely focusing on LIV Golf).

One hot/dated topic was that Pelley had had discussions with Golf Saudi last year and that he turned down a huge chunk of change for getting into bed with them, claiming insistently that there was no such offer as such.

"I know that many people still quote the Malta meeting and the supposed $1bn offer that was made to us by Golf Saudi," he said. "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 at our board of directors on 7 September, 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."

And he was fairly open that the DP World Tour did look to collaborate with the Saudis.

"I often get the question, why can't we work with both the PGA Tour and the Saudis? We tried. But the Saudis remain determined to set up a new series outside of the current ecosystem. That decision has created the conflict we see today and we chose to partner with the leading tour in the game. Some people might not agree with that decision. But it's a decision we feel is the right thing to do for all our members."

He also addressed the chatter that the tour was en route to being golf's fifth best tour, something that Sergio Garcia, who remains a member, has suggested ahead of his move to LIV.

"It's unbelievable," added Pelley. "Let's look at the facts. If the metric determining the top tours in the world is just money, then the number one tour is the PGA Tour, always has been. You could argue that the LIV Invitational Series is number two.

"But The Asian Tour, $22.5m; Korn Ferry, $20m; Japan, $28m; Australia, $5.8m; Sunshine Tour, $7.4m. Totalling all their prize funds together comes to just half of our tour. So even if the only metric is money, how possibly could we ever become number five."

He then turned his attentions to Lee Westwood's claims that the DP World Tour is becoming a feeder tour with 10 players graduating to full status on the PGA Tour as part of the alliance between the tours. This was maybe the easiest one to kick into the gutter given the stature of this week's tournament and the field involved.

"I'll ask you: Is this week a tournament that is on a feeder tour?" Pelley said. "A tournament that has sold-out crowds, television coverage around the world in 150 countries, five of the Top 15 players in the world? A tournament with 150 accredited media? Our first co-sanctioned event with the PGA Tour in Scotland, where 14 of the top 15 players (in the world) played, would that appear on a feeder tour? I could go on and on."

Which he did...

"Can we please just stop the feeder tour nonsense once and for all."