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Keith Pelley has outlined the one thing about working in golf he expects to miss above all else.

The former DP World Tour chief executive returned home to Canada at the end of last month to become the new CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment in his home city Toronto.

That brought the curtain down on an eight-and-a-half year spell in charge of the one-time European Tour and, in a wide-ranging discussion with Rick Young of, Pelley reflected on his time at the helm, and revealed that he’s particularly going to miss the Ryder Cup.

“To be part of that was incredible in every possible way,” he said. “The crowds, the entertainment, the emotion, the first tee.

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“The highlight for me was France in 2018. The atmosphere there was off the charts. I remember being in the locker room after we won with the players and the families and I recall looking over and there’s Jason (Pelley’s son) talking with Tommy Fleetwood side-by-side, laughing, joking with each other.

“I looked at (Pelley’s wife) Joan and I said, ‘That’s why we did this’. It would have taken a special opportunity for me to come back home and leave the golf world because I had a magical nine years on the DP World Tour. Yes, Covid came in the middle of it, and we had challenges with LIV, but I wouldn’t trade those nine years for the world.”

Pelley also revealed that he is “proud” of the pathway that has been created for players to go from the DP World Tour to the PGA Tour, revealing it “still gets my back up” when people criticise that decision.

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“With it, we finalised something that had been there for so long,” he added. “I realised pretty quickly with the European Tour at the start of my tenure, and the DP World Tour at the end, you’re never going to be able to compete with the PGA Tour.

“That’s based not only on the amount of golfers and the popularity and size of the US market, but overseas, we play many events in niche markets. The population of Scotland is 5.5 million; population of Ireland is 5.1 million. Well, the population of Florida alone is 22 million and there are 1,200 golf courses.

“Our biggest market is Scotland with 550 courses. I remember Keith Waters (DP World Tour COO) telling me very early in my tenure that it would probably be easier to have our entire tour in Florida and that we could potentially generate as much revenue there as you could internationally.”

However, he believes that he has left the tour in a better position than he found it when he took over from George O’Grady in 2015.

“I think the tour is positioned well,” said Pelley. “It’s in very good shape from a global perspective and the pathway is part of that.”

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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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