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Is DP World Tour an Afterthought in Jay Monahan’s $3B SSG Masterstroke?

Published 02/04/2024, 6:00 PM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

Where is the DP World Tour in Strategic Sports Group’s $3 billion investment in the PGA Tour? Where does it stand for the deal they apparently brokered? What does the strategic alliance that Jay Monahan and Keith Pelley—who is departing by the way—hurriedly hashed out to stave off a Saudi-backed side hold for the European Tour? Questions galore. Answers are vague and projected too far into the future.

The Tour will consider the ranking, career achievements, and other metrics to offer $750M in grants. The logical conclusion is that European players need to tee off more in the Stateside to have their names on that hallowed list. Because the ranking will most likely be based on the money list or the FedEx Cup leaderboard.

The top 36 players will get the lion’s share of that grant, as a player director told NBC’s Rex Hoggard on condition of anonymity. The next 72 players will have to vie for the rest and even less will go towards the bottom rung. The player-director also said they want to reward ‘legacy’ players, the legends of the Tour, and upcoming golfers. It is fair to ask how much will that benefit the DP World Tour players. How will it benefit the purse size of the European Tour? European Pros sound wary that they have been left out.

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The players don’t seem very convinced

Mere cynicism? It’s easy to dismiss lone voices like that. Those voices from the other side of the Atlantic don’t reach Ponte Vedra too easily. The last and only European on the board, Rory McIlroy, resigned unceremoniously in November. He was done banging his head against the wall, calling for Global Tours. The departing CEO has since shared the vision as well.

As the Tour announced the deal on a conference call, which notably included players from the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions, and Korn Ferry Tour, DP World Tour players were only informed by the official announcement. The reactions started pouring in as the details about the deal started making headlines.

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We can confirm that a deal between the @PGATOUR and the Strategic Sports group is done. But where is the DP World tour in the deal? Is it beneficial to us? What is going to do to us? Well, we will see, I hope.Pablo Larrazabal, a nine-time winner of the European Tour wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

A few hours later, Larrazabal posted another update. A veiled dig at the Tour Policy Board. “The boys club deals again,” wrote the Spaniard. If anything, the comment shows the divide that has been created within the Tour in the last few years. It’s a stark world where a section doesn’t trust others to do what’s best for them. The top players don’t entirely trust the Tour commissioner after the June 6 merger agreement. The rank and file don’t entirely trust the top players to make sound judgments.

Robert MacIntyre, the Scottish Pro, has been a beneficiary of the PGA Tour’s strategic alliance with the European Tour, which saw top players in the Race to Dubai rankings getting the opportunity to play Stateside with a PGA Tour membership. “Seeing all this chat about a deal being made. If the PIF aren’t (sic) involved in the PGA deal then the DP world tour have (sic) to make some sort of deal with them,” the Scottish Pro tweeted. 

The comments were significant. Jordan Spieth, who replaced Rory McIlroy at the PGA Tour Policy Board, said he doesn’t feel there is any need to leave room for PIF now that SSG is here. The question remains whether SSG would be interested in pouring billions into the Tour that has been shredded apart. Will the $12B valuation be logical knowing that the product you are investing in has a rival that has consistently lured the best from your lot?

Spieth has since then clarified his position saying that PIF will be a part of the PGA Tour Enterprises. But as his comments evinced there is still some apprehension about LIV Golf within the top brass. “And where do we stand in all of this?!” asked Richard Mansell, another European Tour Pro. Pelley wanted to offer some clarity, which only muddied the matter further.

What did DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley say?

This was Pelley after the disgruntled players voiced their opinions. “(The) First thing to say is that the game of golf as we know it is changing, and I believe this provides the opportunity for unity. Secondly, negotiations involving ourselves, the PGA Tour, and PIF are still ongoing, and I believe this announcement gives continued momentum to those discussions as well as being an important step to possible overall alignment between all four entities, SSG included.

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It’s fair to say that the Canadian CEO didn’t offer anything that the world didn’t already know. The Tour said in its memo that the deal with SSG creates room for growing the deal with PIF, of which the DP World Tour is also a part. Reasonably, the DP World Tour, along with PIF, will be a part of the for-profit entity. How do individual European Tour events benefit from this?

It’s easy to get lost in the hype and become oblivious to the fact that PIF’s threat was the reason behind the inception of PGA Tour Enterprises. In that contentious time, the DP World Tour thought it was in the best interest of the game to align with the Tour rather than the upstart league. What does it get in return?

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A Costly Mistake? Did Keith Pelley Squander the Chance of Being on the Lucrative Side of History?

Pelley added, “Thirdly, the SSG, led by their principal investor, the Fenway Sports Group, are unquestionably impactful in the US, but, more importantly, they have a distinct global focus—it is the reason FSG became owners of Liverpool Football Club in 2010, for example.” Fair hope. But only Fenway Sports Group, the leader of the pack, has a significant presence outside the USA. Does that hint that SSG’s money will trickle down to the other side of the Atlantic? It’s a wait-and-watch game for the European Pros who still ply their trade on the home circuit and want to see it flourish in the future.

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Written by:

Parnab Bhattacharya

808Articles

One take at a time

I, Parnab Bhattacharya, am a budding golf writer at EssentiallySports. I am keen on constantly exploring my deep-rooted love for golf through my long-time passion for writing. With a strong knack for storytelling and experience in SEO content writing, I bring a unique blend of fluent writing and technical expertise.
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Edited by:

Sheldon Pereira

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