DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley has fired back at a contingent of European players who defected to LIV Golf after the group threatened legal action against Pelley and the tour.
The defectors sent a letter to Pelley and DP World Tour board members that was leaked to multiple European outlets earlier this week. In the letter the group took umbrage with Pelley’s decision to suspend those who participated in the inaugural LIV Golf event in London and ridiculed the DP World Tour’s joint venture with the PGA Tour, saying the move made the Old World circuit a “second fiddle” to the American-based tour. The letter was signed by 16 players, including Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.
In response, Pelley issued an open letter which was published on the DP World Tour’s website Friday morning.
“There has been a leak to the media of a letter we received on behalf of a number of LIV Golf players which contains so many inaccuracies that it cannot remain unchallenged,” Pelley wrote. “Before joining LIV Golf, players knew there would be consequences if they chose money over competition. Many of them at the time understood and accepted that. Indeed, as one player named in the letter said in a media interview earlier this year; ‘If they ban me, they ban me.’ It is not credible that some are now surprised with the actions we have taken. ”
Pelley first addressed the idea that the defectors “truly care” about the former European Tour. “An analysis of the past participation statistics on our tour in recent years of several of the leading players named, suggests otherwise,” Pelley countered. Although he didn’t specifically name any players, Pelley pointed out “One player in particular named in the note has only played six Rolex Series events in the past five years. Another one, only four. I wish many of them had been as keen to play on our tour then as they seem to be now, based on the fact that they have either resigned their membership of the PGA Tour or, if they are still in membership, have been suspended indefinitely. “
Pelley also noted that one LIV Golf individual had signed a commitment to play at this week’s Irish Open, and that player’s participation in LIV Golf’s event in Portland calls into question how much said player truly cares about the DP World Tour.
“With that player currently in action at Pumpkin Ridge, you can imagine the allegation in the letter that we are in the wrong, is hard to accept,” Pelley wrote.
As for the accusation of becoming a “second fiddle” to the PGA Tour, Pelley went on the attack, saying “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
“We held a player meeting in Ireland on Tuesday where we outlined in great detail all the many benefits of our expanded relationship with the PGA Tour,” Pelley wrote about the strengthened alliance with the PGA Tour. “One of those is an unprecedented ten cards on offer to the PGA Tour, cards that many of the players named in this letter desperately wanted to attain in the early stages of their careers. Why now be critical of those trying to do the same?”
Finally, while Pelley said he would not comment on any legal matters, he pointed to the DP World Tour’s member regulations having been in place for 30 years, that all players agreed to the regulations, and that Pelley and the tour will use them to protect the DP World Tour at all costs.
“The sanctions for those members who knowingly broke our rules by playing at the Centurion Club without a release are proportionate, fair and, I believe, considered necessary by the majority of our members,” Pelley wrote.