“Stop bashing the PGA Tour and play golf! ”
This was the blunt message from former Masters winner Fred Couples to LIV Golfers, including the 18 rebel players competing in this week’s 87th hosting of the Masters.
It’s the week men’s professional golf visits the cathedral in the pines, yet despite the hallowed doors being wide open for those exempt LIV golfers, and LIV golfers expressing delight in being “accepted”, there’s still the sounds of controversy.
Couples joined the ‘choir’ mid last month when the 63-year-old, speaking to a little-known Florida paper, labelled fellow Masters champion Phil Mickelson a “nutbag” before going on to call Sergio Garcia a “clown.”
Now, after his Monday practice round, Couples was again sounding off, albeit striving to defend himself.
“If one wants to stop and ask why I’m picking on them, then I’m all for it,” said Couples. “But I don’t really think I’ve done anything horrific. “They’re making comments and I’m replying to them. That’s it. I just don’t think they should bash the PGA Tour or anybody, just go play golf.”
Couples did clarify his initial comments on Mickelson, saying he considers the golfer known affectionately as ‘Lefty,’ as one of the 10 greatest players ever and further explaining that he “still likes him.” Nevertheless, Couples felt Mickelson was wildly overpaid by LIV Golf. “I have no problem with any of them, just please do not bash a Tour that I have 43 years invested in,” added Couples.
Joining Couples on Monday for an Augusta practice round was two of the PGA Tour’s most vocal supporters in Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
“They don’t bother me. They really don’t. They’re golfers. I’m a golfer. “I respect them all. “Go play and have a good time.”
The sniping could add a little spice to Tuesday’s Champions dinner hosted by last year’s winner Scottie Scheffler, though Couples does admit that his usual placing at the dinner table should somewhat remove him from the firing line.
“Tomorrow night will be a great dinner, a lot of fun,” assured Couples. “I sit in a great spot, so I’m down by all the beautiful people that I’ve sat with, and it’s not that the other ones aren’t, but I’m saying (Jack) Nicklaus, Tiger, (Raymond) Floyd, myself, Sandy Lyle, and then right to the head of the table.
“So for 20 years almost, Raymond has told me where to sit and how to do it, and I’m not near a whole lot of people.”
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