European tour CEO: “We have to look beyond the 72-hole traditional tournament”

November 19, 2017

Within five years, golf will exist in a shorter format, according to European tour CEO Keith Pelley.

“I do believe that this is a very special game with incredibly skilled players in it, and it has the makings of just exposing personalities and athletes and I’ve worked with them my whole life, they are great individuals and great role models. But in order to do that to a wider audience, we have to look beyond the 72-hole traditional tournament,” Pelley said from the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Although Pelley asserted that the 72-hole tournament will always be at the core of competitive professional golf, he cited a continued need for innovation. The European tour has been at the forefront of format experimentation since Pelley took over, and will continue to keep its product fresh.

“We are all looking for something to engage and grow our audience. And if you catapult ahead, in five years, I do believe there will be another format that will be adopted that will be commonplace in the world stage.”

As for talk of a World Tour for golf? Pelley said it’s not high on his list of things to tackle — but he didn’t rule out the idea, either.

“Would we have conversations with all the other Tours? Absolutely. Sure. If it’s the best way to grow the game of golf globally and it works for us as a members’ organization.

“Right now, it is not our No. 1 priority. We have a lot of things on the agenda now. The concept of a World Tour, I understand, but right now, it is just a concept. Could it come to fruition down the road? Perhaps. But that would be speculation.”

Pelley was also asked about Rory McIlroy, who missed the week’s event — as did Henrik Stenson — due to injury but was spotted at the Emirates Golf Club down the road on Thursday. Pelley defended the Irish star.

“Playing a match with your mates is completely different to playing in a competitive golf tournament.

“I’m completely comfortable with Rory’s decision that he made some time ago. The most important thing for the European Tour is to have our superstars healthy and playing at the best they possibly can be. So take time to get healthy.”

“Heading into [Sunday], the world No. 6 (Justin Rose) was leading and the world No. 5 (Jon Rahm) was second; we would love to have Rory and Henrik here. But we have a very strong field that we’re very proud of.”

Rahm would go on to win the event, while Tommy Fleetwood took the season-long Race to Dubai title after Rose stumbled down the stretch on Sunday.