Pelley backs Wentworth after criticism of course
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.”