Fred Couples has 2 spicy words for Jon Rahm, LIV defectors

fred couples stands in a red shirt at the Ryder Cup separated from Jon Rahm standing in a navy shirt.

Fred Couples (left) criticized Jon Rahm (right) and others who claimed they were going to LIV for virtuous reasons.

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If you are to believe Jon Rahm, his decision to leave the PGA Tour for LIV Golf was about the future of the sport.

Of course, the money helped. Nine-figure guarantees usually do. But that wasn’t the only thing. To hear him tell it, the decision was also about the golf, the opportunity to be a pioneer and the chance to innovate a sport as we know it.

“Obviously, the past few years there’s been a lot of evolving in the game of golf,” Rahm said last Thursday, the day he signed a contract reportedly worth several hundred million dollars to play for the upstarts. “Seeing the growth of LIV Golf, seeing the evolution of LIV Golf, and the innovation is something that’s really captured my attention. That’s why we’re here today.”

In a spicy segment on his SiriusXM PGA Tour radio show on Monday evening, Fred Couples had his own thoughts on Rahm’s reasoning. Two words summed ’em up:

“My a**.”

Okay, there was more than just that.

“$100 million doesn’t get it, $200 million doesn’t get it, $300 million doesn’t get it, but for $400 million it’s a great product, and it’s a great show?” Couples said. “My a**, okay. Tell me the next guy, whether it’s Tony Finau, ‘I’m going for free, boys. I love this Tour. I don’t like the PGA Tour anymore.’ No one’s gonna do that.”

Couples has never been one to mince words, but the topic of LIV has brought an unusually strident perspective from the former major winner. Yes, Couples is a PGA Tour lifer, owing 15 of his 33 professional wins to the big tour and maintaining close relationships with many of its biggest stars, including Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. But LIV seems to be a matter of principle.

In Couples’ mind, hearing pro after pro tout LIV’s “innovative format” and “commitment to growing the game” isn’t just a mild annoyance, it’s galling. Those who left the Tour for LIV left for one reason and one reason only — and it sure wasn’t ‘innovation.’

“I wanna see the next superstar say, ‘I’m going to LIV, you know why I’m going? because it is unreal.'” he said. “[The PGA Tour plays] Riviera, and they play TPC, Phoenix in front of 300,000 people. I want ’em to go for free. Then go on CNN, and every TV show, and say why they’re going is because it’s that good.

Of course, he knows that’s unlikely to happen. But that’s precisely his point.

“What does that tell me? It tells me it’s all about money, which is fine,” Couples said. “But don’t sit there and go on and tell me they’re ‘changing the game.’ What are they changing?”

Change is a complicated topic in golf right now. LIV has undoubtedly introduced tremendous amounts of disruption into the pro landscape, but to date, the Saudi-backed league has done far more to divide golf than push it forward. Players have gotten paid and the PGA Tour model has improved, but those changes have come at the cost of a bruising public relations battle that has served as a public embarrassment to all but a few of the game’s biggest stakeholders.

Even today, evidence of LIV’s efforts to “grow” golf remains scant, with sparsely attended tournaments and poorly watched telecasts failing to produce a compelling argument for the hidden golf audience the league has claimed to mine. LIV’s efforts have had the added effect of dampening the PGA Tour’s product and limiting the number of weeks in which golf fans can see the best players compete against one another.

This, Couples says, is not change or innovation in any meaningful way.

“Actually, for 50 years, golf has been changed,” he said. “Arnold Palmer changed it. Jack Nicklaus changed it. Tiger Woods changed it.”

“The LIV Tour ain’t changing a thing.”

James Colgan Editor

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at