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For those who haven’t had the pleasure of listening to Padraig Harrington speak, he is an intelligent person. His Irish accent is the first thing that catches your ear but his words are insightful mixed occasionally with some humor. The three time major champion isn’t one to avoid spicy topics either and recently he shared some of his feelings on the LPGA’s decision to make its Tour an English speaking one.
“I've seen people who speak plenty of English who can't give a speech at a trophy presentation,” he said tongue in cheek, “I've heard people who could speak English and I don't want to listen to them, too.”
The Irishman turned serious on the subject and raised some interesting questions that prove his intelligence is equal to his wit. “Well, do you have to pass an exam?” he began. “Surely if you can say hello, that's English. Is that good enough? Who draws the line about how many words you've got to know in English?” he continued. “Obviously some people are natural talkers and some people aren't. What if you have a person who genuinely struggles with learning new language, they have a learning disability? That's tough to ask somebody with a learning disability who might have found golf as the saving grace in their life, to ask them to learn a different language or else you can't play. There's people out there who don't naturally pick up second languages. They could make an effort, but it would be difficult. I'm just saying that there's a lot of different issues to that. It's a big step to actually put it out there,” Harrington said.
“There's a lot of places you go in the U.S. where you've got to speak Spanish. It's a big step, as I said, to force that in somebody. You know, maybe next we'll be sitting for exams to go out and play on the golf course,” he continued.
While Harrington is best known for his major accomplishments he has some experience traveling the world and winning in countries where English isn’t understood. He won the Dunlop Phoenix a couple years ago and still remembers the experience vividly. “You know, the starter of the Dunlop Phoenix went to the same school I went to in Dublin, so speaking Japanese with an Irish accent, now that's funny. I have traveled the world playing and never have an issue. As I say, you do try and go to each country and learn ‘hello,’ ‘thank you,’ 'please,' in the local language, and that carries you a long way if you make that little bit of an effort. If that doesn't work, just point and say ‘I'll have that,’” he said. But the Irishman recognizes the matter is more complicated than it appears. “I can see they're trying to sort out something that's an issue. You know, it's quite a step to do what they've done. It is an amazing statement.”
For more on this controversial topic check out Pikes Peak, where Steve Pike won’t leave you guessing where he stands on the matter.