Pádraig Harrington produced a Major winner’s finish to make the cut at Mount Juliet then called on golf’s powerbrokers not to sanction the LIV Golf rebels in the Majors.
After slipping outside the cut mark following a double-bogey at the seventh, he birdied his last two holes to make it on three-under after a 71 before addressing golf’s civil war.
European CEO Keith Pelley issued a statement yesterday responding to a letter sent to him by LIV Golf, demanding he rescinds the ban on their teeing it up in next week’s Scottish Open or face legal action.
“It is not credible that some are now surprised with the actions we have taken,” Pelley said of the £100,000 fines and bans on competing in the Scottish Open and another two co-sanctioned events.
“The letter claims that these players ‘care deeply’ for the DP World Tour. An analysis of the past participation statistics on our Tour in recent years of several of the leading players named, suggests otherwise.”
While he didn’t name him, Pelley called out Graeme McDowell, who was due to host the Irish Open for the first of two years at Mount Juliet last year before Covid intervened.
“Given how deeply these players say they care about the DP World Tour, perhaps some of them could have played in Ireland this week in support of our new title sponsor, in particular one player who gave us a signed commitment to play at Mount Juliet,” Pelley said. “With that player currently in action at Pumpkin Ridge, you can imagine the allegation in the letter that we are in the wrong, is hard to accept.”
Harrington was so tired when shown Pelley’s letter, he said it read like “gobbledygook”.
But he was surprised by the reaction from LIV, remarking: “If you make your bed, you sleep in it. That’s it. It was very clear there would be severe sanctions for anybody who went.”
While he considers the rebels friends and has no problem with their decision, Harrington revealed the rank and file in Europe wanted far harsher sanctions.
“Let’s face it, the sanctions were extremely light. So players could come back after that first event no problem. I think it’s going to get harder and harder for players to come back but I’m surprised they are surprised . . . It’s only a two-week ban. It’s the simplest ban ever. Two weeks, they got.”
But he does not want to see the likes of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka or Bryson DeChambeau banned from the Majors.
“I wouldn’t sanction them,” he said. “I’d let them play in the Majors. I don’t have a problem with that. I think it’s good to have competition because you can see competition has improved both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. Maybe in five or 10 years’ time it might change but now there has to be a separation of the Tours. I’m surprised it’s a surprise to anyone.”
He admitted he was concerned for the Ryder Cup and unsure whether or not the rebels should be ineligible to play or captain.
“I will say it’s complicated for the Ryder Cup and I do need to know what their proposals are,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to see the Ryder Cup weakened and I wouldn’t want to see the Majors weakened.”
As for his golf, he was pleased to birdied the last two holes having made a double-bogey six at the seventh but felt he should have been eight-under.
“Thankfully, when I was forced into it the last two holes, I played them well and holed a couple of putts,” he said after making a 16-footer at the17th and an 18-footer at the last. “Sometimes when you’re forced to do it, you do it.”