Change the Name of the Game

Following two score years and more of recruitment from within, it’s more than a year now since the European Tour decided not to go native when replacing the long-term incumbent George O’Grady by appointing sports media professional, the Canadian Keith Pelley to the role of CEO at the Wentworth-based organisation. Mike Wilson caught up with the Canadian, a man with a myriad and complex range of issues to resolve and opportunities to explore, but who goes into this year with confidence and the new Rolex Series under his belt

Matthew Fitzpatrick with the DP World Tour Championship trophy

Keith Pelley ended last year on something of a roll, announcing the first seven events in the new Rolex Series at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, including the BMW PGA Championship, the Irish, Scottish, Italian and Turkish Airlines Opens, the Nedbank Golf Challenge and the Dubai finale.

The Rolex Series comprises an initial series of seven premium events each with a minimum US$7m prize fund, but the Canadian's ambitious plans do not stop there. "We expect to have at least eight Rolex Series events in 2017," he said, adding, "We're currently under discussions with other partners as we speak. So, our goal is a minimum of eight in 2017, rising to 10 by 2018.

"We believe we need a stronger content offering to enable us to reach larger audiences across multiple platforms, and that's what the Rolex Series is about, and we need a product that can grow and grow over time and also one that provides a strong financial offering for our young players so they don't have to go to the United States, he said"

Speaking soon after the conclusion of the last event of 2016, the UBS Hong Kong Open, the Canadian described the event as, "One of the leading events in the Far East,” adding, “There is something unique and defining about national open championships and the UBS Hong Kong Open has been central to the collaboration between the European and Asian Tours since 2002, boasting a wonderful Roll of Honour.

"Miguel Ángel Jiménez winning the title on four occasions is a remarkable feat and when you view the other champions including Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, José Maria Olazábal, Pádraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie, it is clear not only how important this title is to our top players, but also the calibre of golfer you need to be to win it," continued Pelley.

"Last month's UBS Hong Kong Open also underlined the continuing importance of the event to our members, with Justin [Rose], Miguel [Ángel Jiménez], Danny Willett and Ian Poulter amongst the European Tour contingent," said Pelley, adding, "It is refreshing you see a new, young talent emerging and congratulations to Sam Brazel for edging out Rafa Cabrero-Bello with a fine birdie on the 72nd hole - it's always great to see a tournament won in that fashion and when you consider there were 18 different nationalities in the top 30 in Hong Kong, with every continent on the planet represented, one realises just what a truly global circuit the European Tour has become."


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