Padraig Harrington believes players on the PGA Tour and the LIV Golf league should be able to move freely, similar to footballers switching from team to team
Football has a simple ecosystem: Teams can buy players from other teams if the price is right.
Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington wants golf to adopt this landscape after LIV Golf poached more stars from the PGA Tour in recent months.
But as Harrington observes, these transfers have been one-way traffic to LIV and while the players have cashed in on hefty fees, the PGA Tour has lost big names with no financial benefit.
The Irishman encourages freedom of movement across the US circuit, the DP World Tour and LIV and says an approach similar to football would be “ideal.”
“Ideally I’d allow a transfer of players back and forth. I’d have no problem with LIV players getting invites to PGA Tour events,” he said to GB News.
“Nobody wants Jon Rahm missing out on the Spanish Open. If that’s the case, then certain invites have to be given to certain non-LIV players to play in their events when they’re in the right region for that.
“These will be ironed out in time. I don’t necessarily see that they need to merge. They just have to co-exist and create a buzz.
“It’d be ideal if it was like football. If you want to buy a player from another team, the team gets the money.
“So at the moment, LIV can buy the best players from the PGA Tour, but the PGA doesn’t get anything out of it.
“The only thing they can do is keep the price high. They have to give a road back to players otherwise those players have no negotiating power when they continue to negotiate with LIV and that means their price goes down.
“The PGA want to ensure that price remains high because they want to make sure they can’t just buy everyone up.”
A framework agreement, or merger as labelled by many, between the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund, LIV Golf’s chief investor, was announced on June 6 last year but a solid compromise is yet to be announced.
In the meantime, the PGA Tour has signed a deal worth $3 billion with Strategic Sports Group (SSG), a US-based sports investment consortium, which could see up to 200 tour members access over $1.5 billion in equity.
‘I think it’s one of the silliest ideas ever’
Since LIV Golf’s inception in June 2022, the PGA Tour has pursued a path of increasing prize money to combat the financial power of its rival league.
The creation of Elevated Events, succeeded by Signature Events in 2024, has not only made astronomic purses the norm but high-quality fields too.
This is the desire of many golf fans, and indeed players: watching the best players compete with each other every week – much like the four major championships.
But with golf’s most powerful parties still in a diplomatic deadlock, LIV Golf defectors have no prospect of returning to their former homes or competing with PGA Tour stars outside of the majors.
A conundrum to some perhaps, but not to Harrington. The 52-year-old believes golf’s stars should align exclusively at the majors – four weeks out of the year instead of all the time.
“I think it’s one of the silliest ideas ever to have all the best players playing in the same tournament at the same time,” he added.
“We have the majors for that. And the rest of the time, hype up your guys and then bring them in.
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