DP World Tour boss Keith Pelley came out fighting this week after months of silence and Pádraig Harrington is right behind him.
Tuesday’s announcement of an enhanced deal with the PGA Tour gives Europe more levers to improve its product, create new events and empower big national opens like the Horizon Irish Open.
The emergence of LIV Golf has so far only been good news for those who have remained loyal to the status quo and Pelley insists he’s “excited” and “energised” about what lies ahead.
He quickly dismissed the notion the DP World Tour has become a feeder tour for the PGA Tour as “a cop out” and as for rumours Ryder Cup skipper Henrik Stenson is about to jump ship for LIV, he was frank.
“I sure hope not,” he said. “There is so much rumour out there these days, you have to try and separate fact from fiction. Henrik has never giving me any indication of that.”
What is certain is that the DP World Tour will have a radically new look in 2024, when with the addition of what he described as “two creative events”, one of them likely to be a national team event similar to the Dunhill Cup.
“When you look at how many Spanish players, Swedish players there are, how strong the Denmark team would be ... we’re a national tour,” he said.
As for accusations that the DP World Tour is nothing more than a “feeder tour” for the PGA Tour, he couldn’t disagree more.
“Feeder tour ... I think it’s a cop-out to say that. I honestly do. It’s an easy thing for people to say. No, we have a pathway, and that is one component of who we are.”
At lunchtime on Tuesday, Harrington expressed his fear that Europe could be “squeezed out” in the battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf.
By the time he’d heard Pelley’s announcement at tea time, his main worry had become this week’s Irish Open and his need for a fast start this afternoon so he does not go flat following his US Senior Open high.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said of his fears being allayed. “Very positive, the Zoom call last night, the announcement. I think up to now, all the talk on the LIV Tour have been about where the money comes from and the moral side of it. The announcement last night, it was the biggest and most concrete effort to go, don’t worry about them, we are going to look after ourselves and make our tour as strong as we can.
“It was definitely a different tack in the sense of, I think people have to come to the reality that LIV Tour, seems like it’s going to be here to stay and it will be normalised.
“There is plenty of room in golf for two big tours and that’s why I was worried about The European Tour getting squeezed out. But with the announcement last night, Europe looks like it has a very strong future, a strong future for its players, younger players, and a strong pathway to growing our games and build from there.
“It looks like the LIV Tour will go ahead and keep going for a number of years. It’s up to the PGA Tour and the European Tour to have a very strong, viable alternative. The PGA Tour is always going to be there, but Europe, as I said, looks like this will strengthen its ability to attract players and keep players going forward, which is so important”.