Since KEITH PELLEY took over as CEO of the European Tour in Aug. '15, he has "earned a reputation as an agent of change," according to Adam Schupak of the N.Y. TIMES. Pelley, 53, "never worked in the golf industry" before joining the tour. He has "brought a fresh perspective to the job and he is not afraid to step beyond perceived boundaries and break free of some of the sport's long-held traditions." Music and pyotechnics on the first tee? Done it. A 40-second shot clock to "improve the pace of play?" Get ready for the Shot Clock masters in Austria in '18. It is "difficult to change the culture of an entire organization," but Pelley said that "he believes he can do it." Excerpts of a Q&A with Pelley are below.
Q: How have you been able to change the mind-set of the European Tour and get the players to buy into such innovations as first tee music and a shot clock?
Pelley: When you look at golf, there are 150 72-hole golf tournaments around the world. In order to cut through that, you have to be willing to adapt and make some changes. We’re comfortable experimenting, and the players have embraced change really, really well. DAVID GARLAND, our director of operations, said it best. He said the Shot Clock Masters, which will be in Austria, two years ago you wouldn’t have brought it up to the team, never mind get it approved in five minutes.
Q: Has the Rolex Series been your answer to the purse disparity with the PGA Tour that has led to top European players flocking to America?
Pelley: It’s in the infancy stage so it will evolve, but yeah, I’m quite happy with the Rolex Series. One of the reasons that we created the series was to provide a viable alternative for the young players to aspire to play in and give that player an option that maybe you don’t have to go to the U.S. to make quote-unquote real money.
Q: How important is the Ryder Cup to the European Tour and when did you realize its significance to the sports fan?
Pelley: It means a lot financially, there’s no question. Every chance that I get, I’ll tell the players, thank all your Ryder Cuppers because they certainly help the European Tour. It’s critical for the success of the European Tour.
Q: How are you going to take the Ryder Cup to the next level in 2018?
Pelley: Our first tee experience at the Ryder Cup is going to be sensational. The opening ceremony, it should be a show, right? It’ll be much more of a show in France than it’s ever been before (N.Y. TIMES, 11/14).
Paris St. Germain named BRUNO CHEYROU the sporting director for its women’s team. Cheyrou, 39, is a former France int’l and will focus on improving the organization of PSG’s women’s team (PSG). ... Australian Football League Umpiring Dir PETER SCHWAB stepped down from the position as the AFL "begins a broad review of the development and coaching of umpires." The former Hawthorn player "returned to the role" in Dec. '16 after a stint as Brisbane Lions' list manager, having previously worked as the "umpires' boss" in '98-99. Schwab said that he realized "his passion lay with football rather than coaching umpires and he looked to pursue other challenges" (THE AGE, 11/14). ... RICHARD BRISIUS and JOHAN SALÉN have been appointed as president and co-president of the Volvo Ocean Race, taking over from outgoing CEO MARK TURNER. The duo co-founded Atlant Ocean Racing and have worked with seven Volvo Ocean Race campaigns over the past 28 years (Volvo Ocean Race).
COACHES/MANAGERS: Ascenso MX side Atlético San Luis announced SALVADOR REYES is no longer the team's coach. The club has won five of 15 games this season and is currently in 11th place (LA AFICIÓN, 11/13). ... Ascenso MX side Atlante named SERGIO BUENO its coach for the Clausura 2018 season. He will "be tasked with leading the team in its fight for promotion to Liga MX" (LA AFICIÓN, 11/13).
French Olympic skier DAVID POISSON, a downhill bronze medalist at the '13 world championships, died following a crash in training. The 35-year-old was killed at the Canadian resort of Nakiska, the French skiing federation said in a statement (BBC, 11/13). ... Former ManU player RYAN GIGGS is "set to sign a consultancy deal to become director of football at a Vietnamese football academy." The Promotion Fund of Vietnamese Football Talents FC said that the 43-year-old "will be responsible for coaching players and training coaches" (BBC, 11/13). ... MO FARAH received his knighthood from QUEEN ELIZABETH II, describing the moment as "incredible" and something he never imagined would happen. The four-time Olympic champion was honored at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday "for his services to athletics" (BELFAST TELEGRAPH, 11/14). ... RAFAEL NADAL's season ended as the Spaniard withdrew from the ATP Finals on Monday after "failing to recover from a recurrence of his perennial knee problems." Nadal: "My season is finished. I tried hard. I did the thing that I had to do to try to be ready to play, but I am really not ready to play" (London INDEPENDENT, 11/14). ... UFC lightweight champion CONOR MCGREGOR "will not be seen inside the Octagon again" before '18 after his actions at a Bellator event in Dublin. McGregor "jumped into the cage to celebrate" stablemate CHARLIE WARD's win over JOHN REDMOND but was "involved in an altercation with the referee" (London INDEPENDENT, 11/14). ... Former Chelsea striker DIDIER DROGBA announced plans to "retire from football at the end of the season." The 39-year-old, who is currently playing for United Soccer League side Phoenix Rising in the U.S., will "devote his time to other projects" (SKY SPORTS, 11/14). ... Family members of former IAAF President LAMINE DIACK stepped up "their campaign to secure his release" by distributing a brochure of achievements supposedly "patiently pursued by a man of conviction." Diack, the 84-year-old Senegalese who was replaced by SEBASTIAN COE at the IAAF in '15, was "charged with corruption and aggravated money laundering" as part of a French investigation in Nov. '15. He is being held under house arrest in Paris (INSIDE THE GAMES, 11/14).