Padraig Harrington thinks four of the game’s most revered tournaments should grant the winners exemptions to the following year’s Majors.
The 52-year-old made the suggestion following one of the events, the DP World Tour’s flagship tournament the BMW PGA Championship.
This year, Ryan Fox became the first New Zealander to claim the title, which netted him $1.53m. However, Harrington, who missed the cut, believes the victor should also automatically make it to the four showpiece events for his achievement.
The Irishman doesn’t think the reward should end with the BMW PGA Championship, either, and has said it should also apply to the winners of the South African Open, Australian Open and Japan Open.
The three-time Major winner wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “I think that in order to support the great legacy tournaments of golf, the winners of The South African Open, The Australian Open, The Japan Open and @BMWPGA should receive exemptions into the four majors the following year.”
I think that in order to support the great legacy tournaments of golf, the winners of The South African Open, The Australian Open,The Japan Open and @BMWPGA should receive exemptions into the four majors the following year. @TheOpen @usopengolf @PGAChampionship @TheMasters…September 17, 2023
The BMW PGA Championship has been around since 1955, when it was named the PGA Close Championship. As well as being held at the headquarters of the DP World Tour, Wentworth, it has a rich history, with some of the world’s most iconic players lifting the trophy including Arnold Palmer, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Rory McIlroy.
The South African Open has an even longer history. It was established in 1903, making it one of the oldest national golf championships in the world. The Australian Open came along just one year later, and is now regarded as the most prestigious on the PGA Tour of Australasia, while the Japan Open has almost a century of history, with high-profile winners including Ballesteros and local hero Hideki Matsuyama.
Currently, the winner of the BMW PGA Championship is granted an exemption to the US Open and The Open, but not The Masters or the PGA Championship, while the winner of the Japan Open gains an exemption to The Open the following year. However, neither the Australian Open nor the South African Open offers an exemption into any of the Majors for the winner.
Harrington’s suggestion comes days after Billy Horschel expressed his disappointment that more Americans didn’t play in the BMW PGA Championship. Meanwhile, it highlights that beyond the PGA Tour remain some of the game’s most prestigious tournaments.
While much of the focus on the elite game remains on the US-based Tour, Harrington clearly feels work is needed to ensure big tournaments beyond it don’t get left behind.