tThe same man explained in a note to players Keith Bailey’s absence as the DP World Tour kicks off in Abu Dhabi this week. said the CEO of European tour a group.
In February, Billy’s business will face LIV rebels who believe they should reserve the right to play on this platform in addition to their own. Bailey said: “The hearing also takes a great deal of time for many other senior officers on our staff, as well as a great deal of financial resources, all of which in the ordinary course of things could have been deployed more beneficially to our business to further benefit all our members.”
This remark infuriated Lee Westwood, who criticized the use of “propaganda” against him and his fellow converts. Bailey’s comment was harmless enough. His organization LIV is a competitive competitor, one with an endless cash hole that could sink the traditional golf ecosystem into irrelevance. A hit or three back is fair.
Where Westwood was on stronger ground was with him Audible anxiety On the DP World tour check out. The $9 million Abu Dhabi tournament features just one player in the top 20. Rory McIlroy will add luster to next week’s Dubai Desert Classic, but Victor Hovland will not defend his title. Major winners John Rahm and Matt Fitzpatrick, the poster boys of European golf, are skipping the entire Middle East swing. Did the LIV, in addition to the requirements of the PGA Tour, materially harm the DP World Tour?
The answer, as with everything in the sport now, is far from obvious. The latest set of accounts submitted by the European Tour group – for financial year 2021 – showed a cash on hand of £79m. EBITDA was in excess of £17m. While the numbers for 2022 are unknown, this year he will enjoy bolstered coffers with the Ryder Cup in Rome. While other sporting bodies have decimated their finances due to the impact of Covid, it is hard to picture the European Tour’s business as anything other than powerhouse. The situation was aided by a strategic alliance with the PGA Tour, which bought and subsequently increased its stake in the European Tour’s media production wing. Golfers in the rank and file have never been so good.
“Look at the numbers,” says Ryder Cup vice-captain Nikola Colsaerts. “People lose a sense of reality. Take a step back and look at where we were five or 10 years ago compared to where we are now.” This season, DP World Tour players will compete for a record $144.2 million. Bailey promised to grow to $162 million by 2027.
If the duty of DP World is to provide an opportunity for a membership of over 400 members, then this undoubtedly exists. As is a new $150,000 minimum winnings guarantee for anyone competing in 15 tournaments. “When you get a tourist card, you get billed for at least 80-100k for expenses,” says Mark Warren.
At BMW, HSBC and Rolex, Pelley has maintained long-term partnerships with prestigious companies. Hero MotorCorp, a huge golf backer on both sides of the Atlantic, entered the hack after Slync’s sponsorship of the Desert Classic collapsed. Airplay deals, a persistent problem for LIV, are a strong suit for the DP World tour.
These are matters of trade. There is also an emerging player element. “I think the European side of golf is in good hands,” says 2018 Open Champion Francesco Molinari. “There’s a lot of young talent coming in. Yeah, some weeks you’ll get better fields than others. It’s not really different from the last few years. When you get to the top of the game, you play a little bit more in America, but we’ve got young European talent coming in.”
However, the inability or unwillingness of many top players to travel to Abu Dhabi or Dubai raises questions. “This is a great event, but he has half the prize fund of 25-30 events around the world,” says Bernd Weisberger, 37, of Austria, who hopes to continue juggling the LIV with the DP World Tour. “None of the best players will play more than 18-20 events.” Wiesberger believes that world rankings for tournaments such as Abu Dhabi are “disturbing”.
Also worth wondering is the failure of the PGA and DP World Tours to agree on a high ranking – i.e. at least $20 million – in any tournaments in Europe and especially the UK. There are light courses and competitions that do not have a wider scope, although this is always the case. Last year’s Scottish Open pulled a prominent field due to the geographical proximity to St Andrews and the Open Championship; With the third main event of 2023 in the Wirral, East Lothian could struggle.
Speculation continues that Abu Dhabi defending champion Thomas Peters will be coaxed into the LIV scene. Such a scenario would be a blow to Billy but far from fatal. The CEO has high-level support. “We’ve been skewed into thinking $100 million is normal,” says 2019 US Open champion Shane Lowry. “Everyone throws these numbers that are just astronomical. As a tour, could this tour be any better? We can all be better at anything we do. But I think with steady growth over the next years, this tour will continue to get better.” Different golfers apply different metrics. Golf’s battle for hearts and minds continues apace.