‘DENIED’: Fred Couples celebrates PGA Tour’s decision to reject LIV Golf releases

U.S. captain Fred Couples laughs with assistant captain Tiger Woods at the 2017 Presidents Cup.

Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR

In case you missed the major golf news that dropped last night, the PGA Tour announced it would not permit Tour pros to play in the first LIV Golf event next month, and Greg Norman fired his own volley right back at the Tour soon after.

But one quick-drawing World Golf Hall of Famer and Tour legend beat the Shark to the punch: Fred Couples.

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan seem to have their organizations on a collision course.
The PGA Tour just drew a line in the sand. Greg Norman responded. Now what?
By: Dylan Dethier

Over the past few weeks, some pros have officially requested releases from the PGA Tour to allow them to compete in the rival upstart LIV Invitational Series’ first tournament in London in June (according to Norman, 19 of the top 100 players requested releases). On Tuesday evening, the Tour made the decision to take the reject those requests entirely, ratcheting up the intensity of the battle between the two organizations.

Norman is the CEO of LIV Golf, which is largely funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, another major source of controversy for the league the PGA Tour sees as a direct threat. He did not hold back when he responded to the Tour’s decision in a statement, calling the Tour “anti-golfer, anti-fan, and anti-competitive” and an “illegal monopoly.”

But back to Fred Couples. Couples won 15 PGA Tour events over his Hall of Fame career, and he’s captained three U.S. Presidents Cup teams to victory. The Presidents Cup is partly run by the Tour, so it’s no surprise that Couples sides with the Tour in this debate. But he made his feelings public on Tuesday night.

At 6:57 p.m. ET, within an hour of the first reports surfacing about the Tour’s decision, Couples tweeted: “DENIED… .DENIED… .DENIED”

The fact that some Tour backers see LIV Golf as an existential threat help to explain the gleeful nature of Couples brief statement.

While some older pros have tried to strike a delicate balance on the subject, Couples is far from alone in choosing the Tour’s side. Superstars such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa and many more have vocally thrown their support to the Tour over the past few months.

We know what those players’ plans are. The real decision is for the players who had their requests denied: stay away from LIV Golf events and keeping plugging away on Tour or play in the London event and risk never playing a PGA Tour event again.

Kevin Cunningham

Golf.com Editor

As managing producer for GOLF.com, Cunningham edits, writes and publishes stories on GOLF.com, and manages the brand’s e-newsletters, which reach more than 1.4 million subscribers each month. A former two-time intern, he also helps keep GOLF.com humming outside the news-breaking stories and service content provided by our reporters and writers, and works with the tech team in the development of new products and innovative ways to deliver an engaging site to our audience.