The debate around LIV Golf is one that simply refuses to go away, but Padraig Harrington is one man who sees some merit in the controversial breakaway league.
Three-times Major winner Harrington spoke to Golf Digest this week about the Saudi-backed series, and said that he understood that it could be good for some players.
Harrington also said that many had already made their minds up about the series, and said that anyone who had decided they would not back LIV Golf should simply "let them have a go at it," in expectation of their failure.
Padraig Harrington sees some merit to LIV Golf
51-year-old Padraig Harrington enjoyed a stellar 2022, taking his first Senior major championship at June's US Senior Open, as well as three other tournament wins on the PGA Champions Tour.
Harrington has enjoyed success in recent year on the Champions Tour, and compared LIV Golf favourably to his new home. He said that their shared 54-hole format offered opportunities for players to play through the weekend, and said that he enjoyed the way in which LIV Golf was broadcast:
I think LIV can be good for some players. Like the Champions Tour, it’s 54 holes, no cut and a limited field. So if you’re any good you’ll be in contention a lot. Sweating it out on the cut-line every week kills players.
I did watch one round last year, when Dustin Johnson holed a great putt to win. I enjoyed the flipping back and forth between all the players. I thought that was fabulous.
I don’t like the fact that, where you’re not in contention, you don’t get shown. But LIV shows everyone. I like that. That’s why LIV have gone to the smaller fields. They can show everyone. Plus, like the Champions Tour, it’s pretty predictable. If Dustin Johnson isn’t in the top-five at the end of a LIV event, he’s had a terrible week. But put him in a PGA Tour field with 155 other players and there are no guarantees. That’s a problem for golf. You can’t always depend on the biggest names being in contention on Sunday. It’s hard to tell who is going to be on the leaderboard.
However, when it came down to it, Harrington said he could not have brought himself to join any tour that would have harmed his possibility of playing in majors, saying that the four biggest tournaments of the year are "it" for him.
The breakaway series, which endured a ropey take-off year in 2022, has garnered much criticism from many figures within the golfing world. Harrington's fellow Irishman Rory McIlroy has been among those most vocal about the series' perceived cash-grab, gimmicky format, and association with the Saudi Arabian authorities.
Speaking about the drawbacks of LIV Golf, Padraig Harrington took a diplomatic approach, saying that those who had already chosen to join the tour should simply be let at it:
Whether you like the concept of team golf or not, or the source of the LIV money, whatever, to some extent we should just let them have a go at it.
If you don’t like it and think it will fail, leave them alone and let them fail. Let them see what they can do. Most people who don't like what LIV is doing think it's just a bad idea.
There's a lot of money in LIV Golf, but a lot of division too, and they will need to pull off a big 2023 to win over golfing fans.