Padraig Harrington has come under fire from players committee boss Thomas Bjorn over his opposition to changes to European Tour membership rules.

The Dubliner is dead against a proposed move that will force players to play at least four of the current 12 event minimum on European soil.

Players’ chairman Bjorn rapped: “We are all players who have travelled the world and a lot of committee men have played both tours. The tour was here before Padraig Harrington and it will be here after him.”

Harrington lashed the proposed changes as “protectionism” adding: “If we want the best players in the world to play in Europe we have to open up the Tour and make it easier for them to compete rather than putting in place restrictions.

"I don't believe in protectionism - I wonder if there may be a case for the European Union." 

But committee chairman Bjorn insisted that something must be done to strengthen fields if the tour is to hold on to major sponsors during the economic slump.

"I don't know where Padraig is coming from, and he always uses the press," he said.

"He never comes to people on the committee and never will do. It's his committee - he does not seem to understand that. He seems to think that he is above it.

"We have discussions, he gets word of it and then he uses the press to slam the Tour.

"Pretty much everything we do is to protect our leading players, but as chairman I have to look at every member as an equal.

"I find it disappointing that he does not come to me and talk. Instead he goes to the press and then it becomes a public discussion.

"I don't want to have a war of words with him, but we are a committee of 15 - and that includes people like Monty, Clarky, Stenson, Karlsson, Jimenez and McGinley.

"They have all been out here a long time, so whose opinion are we going to give more weight to? We love having Padraig here in Europe, but there's a lot of experience on that committee.

"He may have won three majors, but Monty has won eight Order of Merits and knows all there is to know about the Tour.

"We make decisions through discussions, and we also take a lot of lead from our executive.

"Padraig would need to play only one more event here if this proposal goes through. That's not asking a lot - and for him to threaten going to the European Union is out of order."