Why Padraig Harrington ‘strongly believes’ LIV commits should be allowed in majors

Paul Casey of England and team Europe (L) and captain Padraig Harrington of Ireland and team Europe meet on the 17th green during Saturday Morning Foursome Matches of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 25, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin.

Padraig Harrington says he's been reluctant to weigh in on the PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf debate.

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While former Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington doesn’t seem eager to jump over to the LIV Golf circuit, he’s not calling for outright blacklisting of those who have.

Harrington told The Times Tuesday members of the upstart, Saudi-backed league should be allowed to play in major championships.

“I strongly believe the majors should stay above everything,” the three-time major winner said. “I would not want to turn up at a major and not play against the best players in the world. They need to say, ‘We’re above all this.'”

Harrington’s comments come as two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson said last week at LIV Golf’s Boston Invitational he didn’t want to be at Augusta if the tournament didn’t want him there, but that banning LIV players would be the wrong approach for the club.

There’s also controversy this week because several LIV golfers, including a few who are not DP World Tour members, are teeing it at at the tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship. That’s drawn the ire of several PGA Tour stars, including Jon Rahm and Billy Horschel.

“I honestly don’t think that the American guys who haven’t supported the PGA Tour should be here,” Horschel said Tuesday. “Abraham Ancer, Talor Gooch, Jason Kokrak — you’ve never played this tournament, you’ve never supported the DP World Tour. Why are you here?”

Harrington seems to see it differently. He said he understands why players have come to Wentworth from the event, since their Official World Golf Rankings have been tumbling since joining LIV Golf as the league does not yet have ranking points. LIV commits can still play on the DP World Tour (formerly European Tour), pending the outcome of an appeal on the suspensions handed down by the Tour in British court.

All LIV golfers have been suspended from the PGA Tour.

“If LIV had world ranking points and these players were turning up [at Wentworth], I’d be protesting myself,” Harrington said. “But they need to protect their position and this is the only way.”

LIV signees were allowed to play in all of this year’s majors. Augusta National has not made any indications that it will revoke any invitations for next April’s Masters. Among the LIV commits who would otherwise be traditionally given a Masters invite are past champions such as Watson, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.

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Harrington also admitted many of his friends are playing on LIV, likely referring to his fellow European Ryder Cup stalwarts Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia, all of whom he captained last fall at Whistling Straits. He said he didn’t want to “throw them under the bus.”

“Nobody is paying me to support LIV, and the PGA is my bread and butter,” Harrington said. “This is the first time I’ve done an interview where I didn’t want to. I’ve been procrastinating about it, putting it off. Why? Because an opinion now can be taken as dissent. It’s an awkward time. It’s so volatile.”

Harrington compared the dispute between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour to cricket, when the Indian Premier League (IPL) was formed in 2007. That league was not initially recognized by cricket’s governing bodies and purses were increased by Board of Control for Cricket in India and bans were levied for players playing in the IPL.

Harrington seemed to see parallels between the two quarrels.

“In the end, the IPL became the mainstream,” he said.

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.