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Padraig Harrington has expressed his concern for the future of the DP World Tour following the emergence of the LIV Golf Invitational Series.
Speaking at the USGA conference, the 50-year-old expressed his doubts that the Tour could thrive in a world with two bigger entities. He said: "I feel for the European Tour because there's definitely room for two tours, there's no doubt about it, but is there room for more? It looks like the European Tour is the one who could come under pressure and be squeezed.”
Yesterday, it was announced that the PGA and DP World Tours had strengthened their alliance amid the LIV Golf threat. However, there are fears the new arrangement could turn the DP World Tour into a feeder for the PGA Tour, something CEO Keith Pelley has refuted. Despite Pelley's assurances, Harrington is concerned there’s a very real chance that the Saudi-backed Series could emerge as one of the two most dominant organisations in the coming years.
He said: "LIV looks like it's going to be here to stay. In three, four, five years' time, all of this could be very normalised, and there could be the US Tour and the LIV Tour contending for the hearts and minds of the players. Let's hope that the European Tour can keep up. We do need a very strong European Tour."
Harrington, who claimed his maiden senior Major title in last week’s US Senior Open, wasn't entirely pessimistic on the organisation's future, particularly with regards to players who've remained loyal. He said: “At the moment, it seems like the players who are staying are the ones who are feeling like their careers are going on an upward spiral, they want to win the Majors and they think that's their future. I'm certainly impressed with some of the players who have turned down large sums of money. Fair play to them for turning it down and backing their careers."
Harrington also suggested that, with some players not crossing paths as often, the Ryder Cup could reap the rewards, saying: "If I go back to when I played in '99, I didn't know the US players. I had to be introduced. There was all sorts of conspiracy theories during the matches and things like that, whereas now we all play the same tournaments, so we're all quite friendly. It could add spice to the Ryder Cup."
However, Golf Monthly understands a divide is appearing in the European Ryder Cup team of LIV defectors, which is causing the DP World Tour to lean towards banning LIV Golf players from participating. With so much uncertainty, Harrington struck a word of caution as to exactly how the future will play out. He said: "I don't know how that's going to end up in terms of whether the players can play, or with the captains and vice-captains. It really is hard to know what is going to be the future of it."
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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