Pelley warns of European Tour prize cuts and ‘profoundly different’ schedule

Keith Pelley, CEO of the European Tour, gives a speech at Trophee Hassan (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Keith Pelley, chief executive of golf’s European Tour, has revealed that prize funds for events will “most likely be different” when the season resumes following the Covid-19 crisis, as the organisation comes to grips with the disruption caused by the pandemic.

The next event on the schedule for the European Tour is the BMW International Open in Germany, which is due to run from June 25-28.

Last week, the Open Championship was cancelled for the first time since World War II due to Covid-19, which has led to a significant rescheduling for the sport’s three other major championships.

The US Open will now take place from September 17-20 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York instead of June 16-19, while the PGA Championship will now take place from August 6-9 and will remain at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California.

The Masters, which had been due to take place at Augusta National last weekend, is now scheduled to take place from November 12-15. This will cause further headaches for the European Tour, which had been scheduled to host its Nedbank Golf Challenge tournament in South Africa – one of its showpiece Rolex Series events – on these dates before the season-closing World Tour Championship in Dubai the following week.

“There is no question that the date brings complications for us,” Pelley (pictured) said in emails seen by BBC Sport. “But we got behind the collective will of the group to stage it then because it is the right thing to do for global golf.”

The number of postponements the European Tour has already been forced to make may lead to two events being played in the same week when the season does eventually resume, with 14-day quarantine periods for players having been put forward by Pelley as a potential option.

“We are having to implement tough measures both in the short- and long-term,” Pelley said.

He added: “Many of the things you have become accustomed to, such as top-class players’ lounges or courtesy car services will most likely assume a different appearance, if indeed they are present at all. Prize funds will also most likely be different.”

The impact of Covid-19 is likely to spread to next year due to the backlog of events that will need to be completed and Pelley is under no illusions as to the challenges facing the Tour.

He said: “We are doing everything we possibly can to come through this, but be prepared that the 2021 schedule may look profoundly different to the 2019 or the 2018 schedule. This is difficult for all of us to face after the tireless work we have all undertaken to grow our Tour over the last five years, but this is the new reality.”