Fred Couples explains his LIV Golf jabs: ‘I have no problem with anyone’

Fred Couples played a practice round with Tiger Woods Monday morning.

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Fred Couples has been among the most vocal opponents of LIV Golf over the past several months.

And ahead of his tournament appearance with LIV golfers in the field this week at the Masters, Couples turned up the heat. In a press conference at PGA Tour Champions event last month, Couples described LIV Golfers Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia as a “nutbag” and “clown,” respectively.

On Monday after his practice round with Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Tom Kim, Couples gave a rationale for why he’s been so vocal against the Saudi-backed PGA Tour rival.

“I have no problem with any of them, just please do not bash a Tour that I have 43 years invested in,” Couples said. “It bothers the hell out of me. They don’t bother me. They really don’t.”

Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, addressed one of the big storylines heading into the week with his expectations for Tuesday night’s Champions Dinner. He said he expected nothing different at the annual gathering from years past and even welcomed a pairing with LIV golfers once the tournament gets underway Thursday.

“People have asked me, ‘Are you going to get paired—’ I’m like, I would love to be paired with Phil,” he said. “I mean, he’s one of the best players that ever played. He loves this place as much as I do, and if we did, we’d look at each other on the first hole and we’d have a good time.”

Mickelson didn’t offer much when asked about Couples’ “nutbag” comment last month, telling Sports Illustrated, “We’ve been friends for a lot of years.”

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But Garcia took a different approach, telling SI Couples “can say whatever he wants and then we can say whatever we want.”

“I think at the end of the day, his life is his life, and my life, in this case, is my life,” Garcia said. “So, I don’t think he should comment on what me or any of these other guys should have done because we didn’t tell him what he had to do.”

But Couples reiterated Monday he has no problem with Garcia, or Mickelson or any other LIV player. He’d just like to see them stop disparaging his Tour.

“I respect them all,” Couples said. “On my [radio] show, I’ve told everyone, Sergio is one of the top-10 players I’ve ever seen hit a ball, but if he’s going to make comments about the Tour that I play, I’m going to make a comment back, and if it’s offensive I apologize, but they’re on another tour. Go play and have a good time.”

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With the week just beginning and this being his first time at the same event as LIV golfers since the breakaway circuit launched last June, Couples said he hasn’t crossed paths yet with any of the defectors. But he has no problem talking with any of them if they seek him out.

“If one wants to stop and ask why I’m picking on them, then I’m all for it, but I don’t really think I’ve done anything horrific,” Couples said. “They’re making comments and I’m replying to them. That’s it.”

With six former Masters winners now with LIV Golf, there’s a good chance Couples gets that opportunity at Tuesday night’s Champions Dinner.

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at