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PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf

Ian Poulter, Padraig Harrington had this spicy social media exchange about guaranteed pro paydays

December 15, 2023
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Sam Greenwood

Irishman Padraig Harrington and Englishman Ian Poulter have played for the European side in 13 Ryder Cups combined. They were teammates in three of those, and Harrington made Poulter one of his captain’s picks for the 2021 matches in Whistling Straits, where the Euros got trounced.

If not close mates over that time, it figures they at least got on nicely. Maybe not so much anymore, thanks to the continuing and rancorous drama that surrounded the PGA Tour and its competition with LIV Golf, with Poulter on the LIV side, having played for the Saudi-backed league since it started, and Harrington sticking up for the established tours. (If you’re keeping score at home, Harrington has 18 wins, including three majors, combined between the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, while Poulter has 15 victories, but no major titles; nor is he likely to ever captain a Ryder Cup team despite playing in seven of the biennial matches.)

Alistair Tait, the Scottish former editor of Golf Monthly and Today’s Golfer magazines, has his own blog site, and this week wrote a column headlined, “The Height of Golf Hypocrisy.” In it, Tait notes the two-faced nature he sees when American players the likes of Fred Couples criticize those who leave for LIV and don’t acknowledge that it’s mostly about the massive paychecks they’re receiving—yet, Couples and many others got sizeable appearance fees for playing in DP World Tour events over the years.

Wrote Tait:

Is this the same Fred Couples who turned up on the European Tour for large appearance fees? It surely is. You don’t think Couples played in numerous Dubai Desert Classics because he enjoyed the charms of strolling through the Gold Souk? No. Freddie was there for the money, along with other top players, Europeans included. Pretty sure he never went to Dubai for free, or other far flung places around the world.

Funny how Freddie and others never sat in a press conference and said: “I’m only playing this week because they’re paying a nice, big fat appearance fee. I’d much rather be at home but the money was just too good to pass up.”

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Tait posted his column to X (formerly Twitter), got a response from Poulter—who said he’d be happy to make his own appearance fees public—and that piqued Harrington’s interest. The Irishman managed to get in a nice needle when he noted that the appearance fees involved other commitmentsat those events and added, “From the outside @IanJamesPoulter always looked like he did a great job with appearances but I can’t tell if he was value for the money until he spills the beans on what his fees were.”

Fair enough, since Poulter offered, but Harrington had to go a little further with, “Don’t come back with you go first or I will if you will. We’re not 6 years old.”

A shot at Poulter’s past verbal tantrums? Who knows, but we doubt this is over. We, and Harrington, will patiently wait for Poulter’s figures.