Exclusive: European Tour CEO Keith Pelley on his plans for the future

The Off the Ball team were based at Portstewart for the 2017 Irish Open

BY Simon Maguire 12:52 Monday 10 July 2017, 12:52 10 Jul 2017

Keith Pelley. Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

The Off the Ball team were based in Portstewart for the duration of the 2017 Irish Open as the European Tour's top players battled it out for a multi-million Euro prize fund.

In the end, Spain's Jon Rahm delivered a stunning performance to claim his first ever European Tour title - winning by six shots at Portstewart Golf Club in Co. Derry.

The tournament has been regarded as another success as over 90,000 fans passed through the gates this year.

The 2018 event is heading to Ballyliffin in Donegal and Padraig Harrington hopes the same atmosphere can be created next year.

The European Tour's CEO Keith Pelley joined Off the Ball over the weekend and speaking to Joe Molloy and Nathan Murphy, he covered a number of topics:

On Ballyliffin:

"I think Ballyliffin has been on the radar for some time and they've been very aggressive in saying that they could host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. And it starts obviously with the conversation that we have with Rory and Rory likes the golf course very much. 

"It's region will get behind it and support it. It's a spectacular part of the world and again it all comes together when the golf course really wants to have to tournament there. I think it will be a great showcase for not only for the tournament but for the entire region."

On long term plans for the Irish Open:

First thing, you need to be able to go to a golf course that is first rate and that the players are going to support and want to play. Without that, it doesn't matter what city you're in - if the golf course isn't right and if the golf course isn't set up for a tournament of this magnitude that's part of the Rolex series, then it's not going to work.

Paul Dunne on the 18th green. Image: ©INPHO/Presseye/Matt Mackey

On his first two years in the job:

"It's been a whirlwind to be honest with you because obviously, I had worked in Toronto in many different sports and many different media companies and I'd never worked in golf before.

"And now, all of a sudden, you're in golf and you're the gate-keeper of the professional game and it's an incredible privilege, great responsibility but it was a big learning curve as well. 

On the evolution of golf:

"As I've said all along, the 72-hole tournament will always be there and will always flourish in certain times of the year. It is what we do, it is who we are. 

"However there is a narrative around golf and a willingness around golf...and if you're not prepared to change and prepared to explore new formats and make modifications to the game...you run the risk of falling behind.

On the prize fund on the European Tour:

"All of the money that we make, we put back into the tournaments and back into the game and back into the prize fund. 

"This year our prize fund is the highest increase in the last 10 years and more than the last five years combined. I would look at ourselves a non-for-profit because any money that we make - we put right back into the tournaments."

You can listen to the full interview on the podcast player below or stream/download on iTunes.


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