Less than a year ago, Fred Couples and Phil Mickelson were vice-captains for the U.S. Team in the 2021 Ryder Cup. Now, Couples is teeing off on Mickelson and others players who decided to leave the PGA Tour for LIV Golf.
And “Freddie” is swinging harder than a Bryson DeChambeau drive on the par-5 sixth hole at Bay Hill.
In an interview with Golf.com, the 62-year-old Couples sounded off on Mickelson and other former PGA players who jumped ship. He said he’s “disappointed” to see some of the top golfers leave the PGA Tour.
“These guys — you’ve seen their interviews, right?” Couples said. “Have you ever seen Phil look so stupid in his life? They know it’s a joke.”
Mickelson made headlines during the 122nd U.S. Open before stepping on the first tee box. The six-time major winner dodged questions about his decision to join LIV Golf and, at times, seemed very confrontational with reporters. It was a sad look for a once-relatable figure in golf.
Some of the game’s biggest names – Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Mickelson and DeChambeau – have accepted LIV’s enticing payday to leave the PGA Tour. Some say the schedule provides more flexibility. Others argue it’s growing the sport. Pat Perez, on the other hand, essentially said the money is too good not to take the deal.
“They’re all saying they want to change golf, they’re doing it for the better of golf,” Couples told Golf.com. “No one has said, ‘Hey, when I look back 50 years from now … we’ll have made this tour [what it is].’ No one has said that. You know why? Because they’re not going to be around in three years.”
For Couples, Mickelson’s decision to accept the LIV Golf invitation likely marks the end of a friendship.
“I don’t think I’ll ever to talk to him again,” Couples said. “What for? I’m not in the same boat as him anymore, and probably never will play golf with him again. I’m not saying that to be mean. We’re just in different orbits.”
LIV Golf Members Defend Decision to Join New League
The Saudi-backed LIV Golf league has caught plenty of criticism over the past few months. Still, it hasn’t stopped some of golf’s top talents from joining. None of which seem to have any second thoughts about their decision.
“I understand the topics you’re trying to bring up and they’re horrible events. But I’m here to play golf,” Pat Perez said as LIV prepares for a 54-hole event at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club near Portland. “The bottom line is, I’m tired of being on the road. This is like winning the lottery.”
Brooks Koepka, who denied his interest in the new league as recently as the U.S. Open, says it’s about expanding the reach of golf.
“People are allowed to have their opinions, we’ve heard it, everybody has,” Koepka said. “Our only job is to play golf. We’re trying to grow the game.”
None of those comments changed Fred Couples’ outlook on LIV Golf. The 15-time PGA Tour winner and 1992 winner of The Masters doesn’t believe his family would approve if he made a similar move.
“I think this is a family thing for me,” Couples told Golf.com. “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.”