Pádraig Harrington believes the rebellious LIV Golf Series will eclipse the DP World Tour from the big picture if the Saudi-backed league weathers the storm of moral outrage over the source of the money.
The Dubliner admits he had unsuccessfully tried to reach pal Phil Mickelson, who has not set foot on the pitch since his game against PIF Saudi International in February, and then found himself at the center of controversy over his handling of ‘ scary motherf” justified *****s” in connection with the gruesome murder of a journalist to pressure the PGA Tour to give players a bigger share of the pie.
He’s confident he’s got a big one left as he chases his fifth Major in this week’s PGA Championship in Southern Hills, provided he can fend off the mental “demons” that haunt him around the greens.
But Harrington also believes that the LIV Golf project, led by Greg Norman, will thrive if it lasts for the next two or three years, as players chase the “life-changing” fortune and young players, aspiring amateurs and a growing pool of Asian talent join the Saudis accept cash without a second thought for the European or PGA Tours.
“I can understand the European Tour initially turning down the Premier Golf League’s offer,” said Harrington. “They didn’t want to shake the boat. But this boat is being rocked now, and we have quite a rough sea ahead.
“They have a competing tour to the PGA Tour, which was the European Tour, so to speak. Ultimately, the European Tour will be squeezed. From the second tour onwards she might not be any more. The majors will obviously win with two rival tours.”
Harrington sees the moral issue eventually disappearing as the Saudi-backed league gains traction with questions about world ranking points and access to the majors, the only doubt.
“As much as it’s being used as a stick to hit these guys and it’s a big problem for anyone who’s walking, it’s definitely going to take time,” Harrington said of the moral outrage.
“There is no doubt that the moral side of it was the low-hanging fruit used to knock them back. That’s come back to bite them (the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour) because if they (LIV) keep going, they’ll get over it.
“It’s not that my own country doesn’t do a lot of business in Saudi Arabia. As much as it’s used as a stick to hit these guys and it’s a big problem for anyone who walks, time will definitely tick by.
“If they build it and the players leave, then the growth is with younger players and Asian players who have no allegiance anywhere.
“Young players will go there and not know any different. It’s not like they’ve played on the European Tour for 20 years. They have no loyalty. They start. It’s a big deal. If (LIV) two or three years survived, then normality.
“The only question here after the moral question at the table will be this: will they get world ranking points and still be able to play in the majors? That is the only question that has not yet been resolved.”
He understands why 30 players in Europe, “Middle of the Road Players”, have been looking for releases to play for $25 million in London next month with a first prize of $4 million.
The Dubliner, 50, insists he hasn’t received an offer and is happy he doesn’t have to choose.
“I don’t have a number because I don’t have to think about it,” Harrington said. “If someone said, ‘Here’s a million to play with,’ I’d say no. When you say here’s $100 million, now I have to sit down and think about it.
“Me and Greg (Norman) get along great, but we haven’t discussed it on a personal level. I’m not disappointed. I’m glad I don’t have to make a decision.
“It’s going to be tough in five or six years if I leave $50 million on the table.”
As for his close pal Mickelson, who is not defending his title this week, Harrington points out that his views on the Saudi-backed league don’t define the left-hander as a person and he needs to become a golfer again.
“Phil has to do what’s right for him right now,” Harrington said. “For me that would be to show up and play this week. At this moment it is a very uncomfortable situation. But we all live in different parallels.
“One guy explained it and said you can be a dictator in your family, a communist with your outside family, to a libertarian with your friends. In different situations you have different reactions and Phil so much that he has all that other things happen he needs to go back and play golf.
“Just because someone has that opinion in a certain area doesn’t mean they always think that way. It’s not black and white.
“Everyone is not in one camp all the time. Whatever you think of Phil, I haven’t spoken to him. I’ve tried, I’d say get out here and play golf. Because he’s a golfer, he does that. He plays golf.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/golf/clearly-time-will-pass-padraig-harrington-foresees-saudi-backed-tour-surviving-moral-outrage-storm-41663938.html ‘Time will definitely pass’ – Pádraig Harrington predicts the Saudi-backed tour will weather the storm of moral outrage