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Fred Couples Won’t Back Down From Calling Phil Mickelson a ‘Nutbag’

The 1992 Masters champion also called Sergio Garcia a "clown" and has not taken kindly to criticism of the PGA Tour from LIV players.

AUGUSTA, Ga.—Fred Couples recently called Phil Mickelson a “nutbag" as he delivered some harsh comments concerning those who have been critical of the PGA Tour after joining the LIV Golf League.

Couples didn’t backtrack from those words—he also called Sergio Garcia “a clown"—on Monday at Augusta National, where he played a practice round with Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Tom Kim.

The 1992 Masters champion said he was simply pushing back against negative comments toward the PGA Tour.

“I would love to be paired with Phil," Couples 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 (get paired), we’d look at each other on the first hole and we’d have a good time."

Couples, 63, was highly critical of LIV a few weeks ago when he attended a banquet in conjunction with a PGA Tour Champions event. As he said then, his issue isn’t so much with LIV Golf as it is those who made disparaging comments on the way out.

“I’ve made comments, but they need to understand if they've looked at anything I've ever said, I call myself the same stuff I'm calling them, I just don't think they should bash the PGA Tour or anybody, just go play golf," Couples said.

“I have no problem with any of them, just please do not bash a Tour that I have 43 years invested in. It bothers the hell out of me. They don't bother me. They really don't. They're golfers. I'm a golfer. I respect them all. 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. Brooks Koepka I love, Dustin Johnson absolutely love. I'm not good enough to be paired with those guys. They're going to play with those who are probably going to win this thing. But I have no problem with anyone on the LIV Tour. I really don't."

Couples said he expects no issues at the Tuesday night Champions Dinner, where six past champions who are now part of LIV Golf will be in attendance.

“I'm not expecting anything different," Couples said. “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.

“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. They’re making comments and I’m replying to them. That’s it."