‘A bit of rivalry won’t do us any harm at all’: Padraig Harrington weighs in on LIV Golf defectors

Padraig Harrington shared his thoughts on LIV Golf at the Irish Open.

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Padraig Harrington is one of the game’s greatest European champions.

He’s a three-time major winner, Ryder Cup captain, and last week, claimed his first senior major at the U.S. Senior Open.

Right after winning, Harrington jetted to Ireland to compete in the Irish Open, where a second-round 71 ensured he made the cut.

After his round on Friday, Harrington was inundated with questions on the day’s hot topic: DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley’s harsh response to a threat of legal action from LIV Golf participants, who are contesting their fines and suspensions. Currently suspended players on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour will be prevented from playing in next week’s Scottish Open, a popular tune-up for the following week’s Open Championship. (The DP World Tour does not have jurisdiction over the Open Championship, which is run by the R&A. The governing body is allowing LIV Golf participants to compete at St. Andrews this year.)

While some high-profile players have been leery about sharing opinions on LIV Golf, Harrington had plenty to say on the state of the world tours and the many defectors to LIV Golf.

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“I actually don’t have any problem with the guys who have gone to LIV golf. They are gone to go and do their thing,” he said. “Everybody’s got to make their own choices but you make a choice. You make your bed and you sleep in it, that’s it. It was very clear that the guys who didn’t go, especially guys who could have gone, who possibly would have had offers on the table, they have taken a big decision not to take the money.

“The guys have gone because there was an incredible amount of money on the table. No other reason. No other reason,” he continued. “It’s not going to make their golf better. It’s not going to do anything more that they could have done playing anywhere else. They have gone for the money, and there’s great money on the table. They are professional golfers, and everybody has got to make that decision. I have no problem, and those guys are going to remain my friends. I certainly have no issue with what they have done.

“It was very, very clear that there would be severe sanctions for anybody who went. But I honestly don’t judge the guys who went for the money. It’s a pretty good offer.”

Harrington also said he thinks LIV Golf could ultimately be a good thing for the game going forward.

“There’s certainly room in golf,” he said. “I’m particularly happy that the European Tour and the PGA Tour have come out and started focusing on themselves to get better. Instead of trying to pull down the other tour, let them at it.

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“I see it as a competitive tour,” he continued. “I grew up seeing the PGA Tour as a competitive tour. I don’t have a problem with another tour being out there competitive. The players who have gone, that was their choice and they knew what was coming. With the commitment that LIV look like they have, they look like they will be here for years to come and players will do very well out of it. And a bit of rivalry won’t do us any harm at all. As I said, in 20 years’ time, we could have a match between the LIV Tour and the PGA Tour.”

This week, LIV Golf is playing in Portland, the PGA Tour is playing in Illinois, and the DP World Tour is in Ireland, with many worried about the dilution of talent in various fields. But Harrington is unconcerned.

“The PGA Tour and European Tour statements are starting to focus on their tours and as far as I’m concerned, let LIV go and do their thing,” Harrington said. “I think it’s good for golf having competition and other tours, and I think there could be room for it, too. I don’t have a problem with that.”

Jessica Marksbury
Golf.com

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.