Pel­ley backs Went­worth af­ter crit­i­cism of course

The Herald - Herald Sport - - GOLF - NICK RODGER

KEITH PEL­LEY, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Euro­pean Tour, in­sists Went­worth can still play a sig­nif­i­cant role on the main cir­cuit de­spite crit­i­cism of the club’s West Course and the non-ap­pear­ance of some of Europe’s big­gest names at the BMW PGA Cham­pi­onship.

The tour­na­ment’s rep­u­ta­tion as the cir­cuit’s flag­ship has been di­min­ished in re­cent years and Pel­ley him­self de­clared that the money-spin­ning DP World Tour Cham­pi­onship in Dubai at the end of the year had over­taken the PGA in terms of sta­tus.

Went­worth’s new Chi­nese own­ers, Reign­wood, have promised to make ma­jor changes to the West Course, with new greens and a re­turn to its tra­di­tional Harry Colt de­sign fol­low­ing var­i­ous over­hauls, and Pel­ley ad­mit­ted the tour is com­mit­ted to keep­ing the cham­pi­onship in its tra­di­tional home. “We have to sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove the golf course,” he said. “We have been open and I know that the bull­doz­ers are com­ing in a week on Tues­day so this is some­thing that is of the high­est pri­or­ity. They [the own­ers] are com­mit­ted to build­ing some­thing spe­cial and a course that we be­lieve our top play­ers will want to play year af­ter year.

“We have ev­ery in­ten­tion to be at Went­worth for a long pe­riod of time. This is the home of the BMW PGA Cham­pi­onship.”

Graeme McDow­ell, the for­mer US Open cham­pion, wel­comed the tour’s state­ment of in­tent and hopes the cham­pi­onship can be gal­vanised.

“This is such a spe­cial event and you only have to look at how many peo­ple come here to watch,” said the North­ern Ir­ish­man af­ter his clos­ing round yes­ter­day. “It’s such a well-sup­ported tour­na­ment on a lot of lev­els, there’s just a few things they need to do right.”

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