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It’s been one of the big talking points of the past two years, but Padraig Harrington believes the players will “get over it” should LIV golfers be allowed to make a return to the Ryder Cup fold. 

Talk of the defectors being allowed to tee up in the biennial matches in September has resurfaced in the wake of the so-called merger involving the PGA and DP World Tours and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which could lead to captain Luke Donald managing a divided team room at Marco Simone Golf Club. 

The European team is rarely as strong as the American’s – certainly from a world ranking perspective, at least – so past captains have had to lean heavily on camaraderie. But Harrington – who has had a long-running and high-profile feud with Ryder Cup record points scorer Sergio Garcia in the past – is unconcerned. 

“For a week, you get over it,” he tells bunkered. “Myself and Sergio used to hug at the Ryder Cup. When you are playing you get over these things, and you work through it. You would be surprised – a bit of tension does help, and you want a bit of drive in there. Everything goes out the window at the Ryder Cup to make the best possible team. 

“All teams have it. Look at the England football team. Most of the players are kicking the hell out of each other in matches two weeks previous, so I don’t see tension being an issue.  

“You wouldn’t necessarily be partnering them up, but you could have a situation where two LIV players are picked on the team, and they are so desperate to win five points each to prove the value of LIV, that it could be good.” 

Padraig Harrington Sergio Garcia

Harrington, who captained the European team in 2021, is keen for Luke Donald to have the strongest team possible as they look to exact revenge for the record defeat at the hands of the Americans two years ago.  

“I think the Ryder Cup is going to have the LIV players back,” he explains. “They definitely warrant consideration. They’re good players. To suggest there aren’t players capable of being Ryder Cup players over at LIV would be silly.  

“A couple of them are at the stage [where] it [might be] their last hurrah, but not all of them for sure. Luke’s got to pick his best team at the end of the day.” 

The only concern might be getting players who could possibly make the team – notably the in-form Garcia – registered in time. The Spaniard was among a group of players to resign their DP World Tour membership after they were fined for playing in LIV Golf’s inaugural event in London. 

And while it’s too late for any LIV golfers to qualify via the usual routes, Donald will have six captain’s picks for this year’s showdown – but they will still need to hold a DP World Tour card.  

“The rules have been changed before,” Harrington shrugs. “The whole idea of this [merger] is [to] not do any harm or damage to anybody in this situation.  

“What I’m suggesting is everybody is given a clean slate.” 

As for the future of the European captaincy, Harrington, who is on the selection committee, believes the merger “opens it all back up”.  

Henrik Stenson was stripped of the job for this year’s matches when he joined LIV, while the likes of Garcia, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell have all been touted as possible captains over the next decade. 

And while Harrington is keen to stress that “the next captain is not decided in any shape or form” he does concede that “there did seem like a nice roll of captains going forward”. 

Padraig Harrington

Padraig Harrington was speaking to bunkered during a patron’s day at Royal Liverpool for Mercedes-Benz – the official car of The Open. 

author headshot

Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

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