home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


May 25, 2017

Keith Pelley

Abdulaziz Bukhatir

Julian Small

Surrey, England

SCOTT CROCKETT: Let me introduce today's top table to you. In the center, please welcome Abdulaziz Bukhatir, who is the Executive Director and Deputy CEO of Jumeirah Golf Estates. And on his right is Julian Small, well known to all of us of course at Wentworth, but Julian is now Managing Director of Club Operations at Jumeirah Golf Estates. And of course on my immediate right is Keith Pelley, the Chief Executive of The European Tour.

It's my pleasure to hand over to Keith to get this afternoon's proceedings underway.

KEITH PELLEY: Thanks for joining us, and we'll try to be as brief as we possibly can because I know you want to get back to seeing some spectacular golf in some great weather.

It's been wonderful this week and one of the keys to the success of the tournament so far, and it's only Thursday, but you've probably heard the comments as much as I have, is the change to the golf course. Not only the greens, but the removal of the bunkers, the shape that it's in.

It's in incredible shape. The way that they have taken out the trees and made it not only aesthetically pleasing, but playable and the scores today are reflective of true putting greens, and terrific weather.

And as we know, we know one of the things I've certainly learned here in my first 20 months is that you need an incredible golf course to have a spectacular tournament, and we now have that here at Wentworth that matches the iconic status of the golf course and the building and the whole land.

I'm pleased to announce today, that we have agreed to a further extension with the Jumeirah Golf Estates to hold our DP World championship, our final event of the Rolex Series, on another world-class golf course, and that's the earth golf course.

We have been working with Jumeirah for some time. Dubai is obviously a critical partner for us. We have The Race to Dubai. Golf in Dubai is that something I know, as I look at Keith Waters, Keith and George had the vision to associate The European Tour with Dubai, and it's been a terrific relationship and a terrific relationship with the Jumeirah Golf Estates.

So today, we announced that that partnership will continue till 2020, and we will play our final event of the Rolex Series on the Earth Course for the next four years.

Thank you very much, gentlemen. It is a world-class facility. Julian knows both of them, obviously, having been here at Wentworth and now being at the Jumeirah Golf Estates, and it is a privilege and a pleasure to be associated with two iconic venues to start the Rolex Series here at Wentworth and to end it at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

So thanks for attending and I know everyone will want to hear from both of you.

ABDULAZIZ BUKHATIR: Thank you, Keith. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Today marks a significant milestone in our relationship with The European Tour by extending our commitment to hosting the season-ending DP World Tour Championship until at least 2020.

We are strengthening a long-term association with The European Tour, one that dates back to 2009, and the inception of The Race to Dubai.

As the global significance of the DP World Tour Championship continues to grow each year, so, too, does Dubai's reputation as a premiere destination for international sporting events. Hosting such a tournament gives Dubai a platform to tell its story in a world stage, while also promoting golf at the grass roots level in the UAE.

In line with vision of his Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the Prime Minister of the UAE, to make the UAE No. 1, we are constantly striving to enhance the tournament, as well as our complete golf offering to be the best in the world.

To do this requires world-class golfing facilities, and we are very proud of the prestigious environment that we have created. With the state of our clubhouse and the first European Tour performance institute in the Middle East, our venue now boosts first-rate training facilities that cater to elite professionals and amateur golfers alike.

Without question, the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates has provided the backdrop to many of modern golfers, most memorable moments from Lee Westwood's victory at the opening of DP World Championship in 2009 to Henrik Stenson's back-to-back victories in 2013 and 2014, and Matthew Fitzpatrick, his biggest European Tour win last year.

This prestigious event continues to attract the world's best golfers and their fans. In the excitement of what the future holds, that makes us proud to commit to this partnership today. We look forward to continued success in the years to come and to welcome all of you to Jumeirah Golf Estates in November of this year to the DP World Tour Championship, which will be a fantastic final in The Race to Dubai. Thank you very much.

Q. Was there any serious thought given to moving elsewhere, or was this a pretty easy renegotiation?
KEITH PELLEY: Well, again, it comes down to a similar conversation that we had regarding Wentworth and the players. The players influence us so much. They love the Jumeirah Golf Estates. They love obviously going to Dubai, to what has now become home, which is the Earth Course.

So when our players are happy at a golf course and happy at a golf resort, and the commitment to continue to make it stronger and better and better; it was an easy decision for us to want to continue there. Not saying the negotiation was easy, but it was easy for us to say that this is where we wanted to be because of the commitment to Jumeirah and the quality of the golf course and a golf course that our players wanted to be there.

Q. Just following on from that, how important is the longevity of having the event at the same course to the concept of The Race to Dubai?
KEITH PELLEY: Well, it helps in areas where the game is still growing. You have a little bit more flexibility to move around in golf communities where golf is part of the fabric, which is in the likes of Ireland or Scotland.

But as golf is growing in the Middle East, and we definitely have a robust tour in the MENA Tour, which is exposing the game; but as the fans have grown, over time, year over year, there's more fans that are coming to the DP World Tour Championship, and a lot of that can be attributed to the Jumeirah Golf Estates; that it is a consistent place.

There are a number of great golf facilities in Dubai, and a lot of great golf courses in Dubai. And so there are definitely other options. But we thought that it was best that we had some momentum with Jumeirah; that we wanted to continue the DP World Tour Championship at that particular venue to continue to build on what we've done over the last number of years.

Q. Did you actually take standings off the players, because as well as the Earth Course, there's other courses at Jumeirah itself.
KEITH PELLEY: Yes, we talk to the players all the time. As you can imagine, it is tough to get 100 per cent commitment that this is where we want it to go. But it was pretty overwhelming that everyone was very, very content with the way that we were treated. Everything about the Jumeirah Golf Estates, the players enjoyed; the way that they were treated; the golf course itself; the practice facilities.

So at the end of the day, again, it was a pretty easy decision to enter into a negotiation to continue.

Q. Could you remind us, first, when the existing deal was due to expire? And just moving on from that, we keep getting the sense that the Final Series is a work in process. Is this the sort of stability that will allow you to set a longer format for going forward, maybe three events?
KEITH PELLEY: Well, I think in terms of, we have removed the thought of a pure -- I guess the name of The Final Series, as we are now focusing on our eight Rolex Series Events, which are all incredibly critical to us.

We chose to take the existing deal and extend it, and it was important for us to have stability for the next three years. We believe that we will be there a lot longer than 2020, and without going into any of the contract discussions, yeah, we're more than content.

We're thrilled to have a venue that the players like in an area, in a country, that the players love to go to. They go there to practice all year. It has really become part of our tour. So again, it was a pretty easy decision to be honest, and we look forward to being there long beyond 2020.

Q. You talked about the state of the clubhouse and the excellent training facilities. Is there still some development work to be done on the estate in terms of developing real estate and other facilities on the whole project?
ABDULAZIZ BUKHATIR: Well, I think in Jumeirah Golf Estates, we have phases. So the current phase, in Phase a, which is around 370 hectares, we have almost developed the entire area, and soon we are working with our partners into moving to the new stage, and that new stage will have a different master plan.

So hopefully there is no stopping in development. Development will continue. It's only a matter of seeing what does the market require, and we will be looking forward to if it requires more development or more golf courses; yes, why not.

Q. What is Jumeirah's standpoint with regard to the Fire Course; there hope that somewhere along the line that that course will be used for though?
JULIAN SMALL: I think when you look at professional golf tournaments, and especially something that's as successful at DP World Tour Championship, there are so many facets to be able to successfully hold a tournament, and you've got to look at all the different constitute parts.

And I think the challenge that the Fire Course faces is a physical one about how you create that superb 18th green arena to be a fitting finale and stage for the finish. And it's very tight in that area, so from an overall standpoint, I think whilst the Fire Course is a fabulous -- and I know from the players who play it when they come down to practise, they like the course. I think the Earth Course is far better logistically to actually put on a tournament that is growing as rapidly as the DP World Tour Championship is.

And the beauty I think of this agreement is it provides us now with a really strong platform over the next four years to continue to evolve it as The Race to Dubai evolves. Because I think The Race to Dubai is going to gain significant moment with the involvement of falcon golf over the next four years.

Q. Is $8 million locked into 2020, as well, the prize fund?
KEITH PELLEY: It will be a minimum of 8 million.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much for your time. Enjoy the rest of the week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297