‘The more the merrier’: Padraig Harrington welcomes the competition from LIV Golf

Padraig Harrington said this week he believes the competition LIV Golf presents could lead to innovations in the sport.

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While some stakeholders in golf are bemoaning the ripple effects that the upstart LIV Golf League has produced, Padraig Harrington has quite the opposite point of view.

“Personally, I believe there’s room in golf for lots of tours and lots of competition,” Harrington said at this week’s JP McManus Pro-Am. “The more the merrier, if you ask me.”

It’s a stark difference from what many of the non-defectors have stated in recent weeks, but for Harrington, he believes the disruption the Saudi-backed league presents might turn out to be a positive for the sport. In his view, competition breeds innovation — and that is a very good thing.

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“At the moment, there is disruption, there’s no doubt about it, but disruption is not bad at times,” he said. “It looks at the moment like as I said, the PGA Tour look like they have strengthened their position and European Tour are strengthening their position. I feel there is plenty of room and time will tell.”

Harrington has remained neutral on the topic of LIV Golf each time the topic is broached. Last week, he told the press he “didn’t have any problem with the guys who have gone to LIV,” but he did reiterate that he believed their main motivating factor was money.

Some of Harrington’s former Ryder Cup teammates — Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey — are among those who have made the jump to LIV in recent weeks. And even though Harrington does not find himself on the same side of the aisle on this issue as his fellow Europeans, he still considers them his friends.

“Being here is a little bit like Christmas dinner or Thanksgiving for your family,” Harrington said. “You could have a sibling sitting there and — we’ll Americanize it: You could be a Republican; they could be a Democrat, but you’re friends at that particular time, and maybe politics isn’t mentioned at the dinner table. We are here for two days, and it’s great to see.”

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That being said, other stakeholders in the game haven’t been quite as friendly when it comes to defectors. The PGA and DP World Tours have already levied suspensions and fines for those playing in LIV events, and possible bans from the Ryder Cup are on the table as well.

Harrington said he hadn’t considered how the future of the Ryder Cup will be impacted by these decisions, but he did say that his time as a part of the European team is behind him.

“I had my chance,” he said. “As much as I loved the experience of being Ryder Cup Captain, and I really did, it was a tough call, and I don’t see myself going back into that arena again. It’s just the nature of the business. It’s a one-and-done, and it’s a bigger event than the individual.”

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.