In a historic move that is one giant step towards a merger, the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour have entered into a 13-year partnership that will see the US inject more than £125 million into the treasury of its European counterparts and offer 10 coveted seats on the circuit in the States.
Of course, this is a response to the LIV threat, and many will see the PGA Tour counter the bid for the DP World Tour – European Tour – from the $255 million Saudi rebel network.
However, while Keith Pelley, chief executive of Wentworth’s headquarters, acknowledged that this is a strengthening of a “strategic alliance” signed with the Americans two years ago was accelerated by a series of breaks, he insisted that there had been no contact with the LIV for more than six months.
Before the announcement was made, Pelley addressed his members at a players’ meeting in County Kilkenny, which is hosting the Irish Open this week, and outlined the benefits of the deal.
Inevitably, the two main carrots that had to satisfy the audience, including those who felt that Pelley and his reign should have gone with the Saudis when they had the chance, were money and playability.
The PGA Tour cards for sale are a huge step and by far the most significant. There has never been a path to what Pelley called “the most powerful organization in the world of golf” before – even players like Rory McIlroy had to earn their U.S. playing privileges separately – and there will no doubt be accusations against the DP World Tour. becomes a “feeder league”.
However, Pelli dismissed it, calling it “a great opportunity for our players” and pointing out that it is the same as it is for the top 10 players at the end of the year Race To Dubai who do not yet have a PGA Tour membership.
Last year, that would have meant Scotsman Calum Hill would get his US gaming privileges for 2022 despite finishing 32nd on the Order of Merit.
With LIV handing out hundreds of millions in registration fees for names like Phil MickelsonDustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, and eight figures for European heavyweights including Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, finances must and must remain competitive.
And with Monahan increasing his tour’s share of the DP World Tour’s media arm from 15 percent to 40 percent, bringing in an estimated $150 million (£123 million), Pelli now has the funds.
He did not divulge exact numbers to the press, but he did guarantee players an increase in total prize money, excluding majors and world championships, by almost £120m in 2014 and nearly £140m in 2027.
That’s more than just over £100 million this year. There was also a vow to “take care of your living expenses once and for all” as well as help with travel.
Both Pelley and Sawgrass Commissioner Jay Monahan were keen on the conference call to emphasize the independence of the Tours, and this is nowhere better seen in their disciplinary systems.
Monahan suspended his Rebels indefinitely as soon as they kicked off the opening of the $25 million LIV tournament in Hertfordshire three weeks ago, while Pelley and his boss spent two weeks announcing bans at the Scottish Open next week the first jointly sanctioned tournament. between rounds, as well as a $100,000 fine.
Letters of appeal have already made their way to Wentworth from offended players threatening legal action, showing Pelley has to walk the tightrope.
Monahan, however, provided a glimpse of a future in which a long-discussed global tour could be the rational conclusion to this relationship. “We are just getting started,” he said.
Whether this will stop the LIV from leaking is another question. DeChambeau, Koepka and other rookies like 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reid and world No. 20 Abraham Unser are in Portland, Oregon for this week’s second $25 million tournament.