DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley has delivered an impassioned defence of the European circuit in the face of what he termed the “LIV propaganda machine”.
A total of 17 players who have featured in the Saudi-backed breakaway series are in the field for the European PGA Championship at Wentworth, southwest of London, this week.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Pelley urged players not to show disrespect for the DP World Tour by “parroting LIV’s talking points” and dismissed Sergio Garcia’s claim that it is a feeder tour set to become the fifth-best in the world.
“Please stop this nonsense,” he said. “Is this week a tournament that would be on a feeder tour? We are unquestionably number two in the world (behind the US PGA tour) by a country mile.”
Pelley also reiterated the DP World Tour had not turned down the chance to partner with LIV Golf in a highly lucrative deal, insisting the figures often quoted are “not even remotely” accurate.
“I know that many people still quote the Malta meeting and the supposed $1 billion offer that was made to us by Golf Saudi, which is a large part of the reason behind the claim that we missed an opportunity with the Saudis,” he added.
“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.”
DP World Tour players who contested the first LIV Golf event in June without permission were banned from the Scottish Open, which is co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour – and fined £100,000, but had those punishments temporarily stayed, with the full appeal set to be heard in February.
Pelley said he respected the decisions of players who had joined LIV, but had explained to each of them “there will be consequences” for breaking the Tour’s rules.
“Some of the players have asked how can you let players on the PGA Tour play on your tour for years, but not allow LIV players to play?” he added.
“And I will acknowledge over time that the PGA Tour have been a competitor, but they have been a partner at the exact same time.
“They didn’t stage events in Europe and we didn’t stage events in the US. LIV’s first event was in our territory in the UK and they are talking to every one of our stakeholders, every one of our partners, every one of our broadcasters.”
Pelley said he had been disappointed with the behaviour of some LIV recruits as golf’s civil war intensified.
Talor Gooch earlier hit back at Billy Horschel after the defending champion criticised the presence of the LIV players at the PGA Championship.
US golfer Gooch and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer are in the field due to their rankings in the top 60, but Horschel believes they are being “hypocritical” in chasing ranking points having never shown any interest in the event before.
Gooch pointed out on social media that Horschel had played few regular DP World Tour events himself.
“He supports what’s best for his career. Like all of us do,” Gooch wrote on Twitter.
“Name a top-50 player in history who hasn’t chased world ranking points,” he added.