Fred Couples calls Phil Mickelson a ‘nutbag,’ says Will Zalatoris twice rejected LIV

Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson

Fred Couples and Phil Mickelson at the 2013 Open Championship.

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Phil Mickelson is a “nutbag,” Fred Couples says.

He says Sergio Garcia is a “clown.”

And, according to the Orange County Register, Couples had words for Cam Smith and LIV Golf broadcasts in a speech this week ahead of the PGA Tour Champions’ Hoag Classic. Notably, the 15-time PGA Tour winner said he did not have an issue with the second-year, Saudi-backed series itself — but “what my problem has been when I tweet every now and then, is what these guys say when they go to the LIV Tour.”

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And Couples unloaded on a few LIV players.

— He called Mickelson a “nutbag,” but added that he is “probably one of the 10 best players that ever played” and that he still likes him. Couples also singled out his fellow World Golf Hall of Famer in referencing the fact that LIV has paid its players large, guaranteed contracts. 

“If you’re giving Phil Mickelson $200 million at age 52 to shoot 74 and 75, God bless you,” Couples said, according to the Orange County Register.

— He said he was annoyed by “all these other clowns, like Sergio.” 

— He was critical of Smith, though called him only “the guy who won the Players Championship and British Open last year.” In explaining his jump to LIV last year, Smith had told Golf Digest: “I’ve lived over here seven years now, and I love living in the U.S., but just little things like missing friends’ weddings, birthday parties, and seeing your mates having a great time at rugby league games has been tough.”

To which Couples said, according to the Orange County Register: “I find that comical, because my favorite to ever play has five kids, 40 grandkids, and he has never missed anything — and that was Jack Nicklaus,” Couples said.

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— He also blasted LIV’s broadcasts. The series is now being broadcast on the CW Network, after being shown last year in the U.S. only on YouTube and LIV’s website. 

“It was on the CW a couple weeks ago, or whatever that channel everybody is laughing about,” he said, according to the Orange County Register. “I turned it on three times. It was so bad. I couldn’t even watch anyone that I liked. They don’t show ’em. … Who won the last one? I don’t even know.”

(Charles Howell III won.)

— Couples also had a revelation on a player not with LIV. According to the Orange County Register, he said that Will Zalatoris had been offered $35 million to join the series, then $130 million, and he turned down both. 

“Money is zero object [for LIV],” Couples said. “I give Will a lot of credit; he wants the PGA Tour.”

Couples’ thoughts continued a year-long roast of LIV and its players. 

In an interview in late June with GOLF’s Alan Bastable, Couples ripped Mickelson, Pat Perez, LIV’s future — “they’re not going to be around in three years” — and the source of LIV’s funding. “I think this is a family thing for me,” Couples said. “I’m a little peon from Seattle, but I know where the money’s coming from, and I think my family would disown me if I went. Of course, that’s easy for me to say because I’m not going, so I can actually tell you whatever I want to tell you.”

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About a month later, ahead of another Champions event, Couples then shared thoughts on Garcia and Perez again, LIV CEO Greg Norman — ”who no one’s liked for 25 years” — and LIV’s “golf but louder” promotion.  

“All these guys think they’re changing the game, and to me, it’s comical, it’s really comical,” Couples said. “To have music on every tee and have people drinking beers and think that’s cool.” 

He added: “I never thought the cast and crew that would do that would be the guys doing it.”

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at

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