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    Fred {Couples} dismisses LIV Golf, Phil Mickelson

    Fred {Couples} and Phil Mickelson have been assistant U.S. captains collectively on the 2021 Ryder Cup.

    getty photos

    JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Fred {Couples}, who has captained three U.S. Presidents Cup groups to victory, is main a distinct sort of group this week at Liberty Nationwide, exhausting in opposition to the Hudson River throughout from Decrease Manhattan. His cost this time round: the U.S. squad on the Icons Collection, a brand new match-play occasion that pits 12 golf-mad athletes from the U.S. in opposition to their counterparts from the world over.   

    {Couples} has some strategizing to do earlier than the matches start in earnest Thursday morning: Ought to he pair up former NFL working backs Reggie Bush and Marshall Faulk, for instance, or would he be higher off cross-pollinating athletes from completely different sports activities, matching, say, ex-MLB pitcher John Smoltz with hoopster-turned-college golfer J.R. Smith. Selections, choices…

    Alas, as {Couples} paced the property with a reporter on Wednesday, the previous Masters champion was mulling one other resolution, one which has dominated the golf-news cycle in latest weeks: the selection a lot of his fellow PGA Tour gamers have made to sever ties with the PGA Tour and signal profitable offers with the upstart Saudi-funded LIV Golf collection.

    As {Couples} strolled to the vary underneath sun-splashed skies one in every of his Icons gamers caught as much as him: 28-time Olympic medalist and avowed golf nut Michael Phelps.

    Patrick Reed makes his LIV debut this week in Oregon.

    ‘Hearken to the gamers’: Patrick Reed rips PGA Tour on his method out the door

    Dylan Dethier

    “Let me ask you a query,” {Couples} mentioned to the swimming legend. “You win the L.A. Open or a LIV [event] — L.A., you get a million-nine, LIV you get 4 [million]. What trophy would you fairly have in your own home?”

    “For me,” Phelps mentioned, “I need to go on the market and be part of historical past, and attempt to recreate historical past. That’s what I used to be all about.”

    “You realize what,” {Couples} mentioned, “right here’s a man who’s gained one million [swimming] occasions and he simply mentioned it proper on the button.”

    {Couples}, as you’ve most likely deduced by now, is a PGA Tour loyalist, a legacy man. He’s not opposed to vary or enchancment, however he’s “disenchanted,” he says, that gamers have jumped ship for LIV. He has made that clear in a couple of tweets he’s posted over the previous two months — “Nice to see some actual and thrilling golf being performed in Canada this weekend,” he tweeted within the wake of the Canadian Open final month, a cheeky shot at that week’s LIV Golf occasion in London — however on Wednesday {Couples} expounded in no unsure phrases on his emotions concerning the rival tour and the PGA Tour stars who’ve contracted with it, a minimum of a couple of of whom {Couples} has captained, or captained in opposition to, in previous group occasions.   

    At the start, {Couples} mentioned, he’s uncomfortable with LIV’s monetary backers: the Saudi authorities, which has been accused of assorted human-rights atrocities.   

    “I feel it is a household factor for me,” {Couples} mentioned. “I’m a little bit peon from Seattle, however I do know the place the cash’s coming from, and I feel my household would disown me if I went. In fact, that’s straightforward for me to say as a result of I’m not going, so I can truly let you know no matter I need to let you know.”

    brooks Koepka

    ‘Opinions change’: Brooks Koepka explains LIV resolution in tense presser

    Dylan Dethier

    The identical can’t be mentioned of gamers who’ve signed with LIV, {Couples} mentioned. They’ve primarily been muzzled, he mentioned, which has been obvious in press conferences.   

    “These guys — you’ve seen their interviews, proper?” {Couples} mentioned. “Have you ever ever seen Phil look so silly in his life? They realize it’s a joke.”

    {Couples} was referring to Phil Mickelson’s two most up-to-date press conferences — one on the debut LIV occasion in London, the opposite on the U.S. Open — during which Mickelson, in lots of observers’ eyes, delivered a collection of insufficient solutions when attempting to clarify or rationalize his LIV allegiance.

    On Tuesday of this week, on the second LIV occasion close to Portland, Ore., extra LIV signees confronted the press, together with a trio of the most recent big-name commits: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez. Seated collectively at a dais in a joint press convention, the gamers confronted a predictable line of questioning from the assembled reporters, together with queries about Saudi human-rights points, what satisfied the gamers to hitch LIV and if the PGA Tour may have performed something to maintain the gamers from leaving. Because the questions saved coming, the temper within the room grew an increasing number of tense.   

    “I heard of all individuals Perez was a little bit confrontational,” {Couples} mentioned of the three-time PGA Tour winner. “He’s a grain of sand on this Tour. He ought to be delicate and type, however he’s, like, elevating his voice. I’m performed with it.”

    {Couples} additionally questioned the long-term viability of LIV. He mentioned he understands that the tour’s organizers should not in search of a fast revenue however nonetheless is confounded by the massive sums they’re providing gamers.

    “I can’t imagine they will pay a man $150 million for that,” {Couples} mentioned; LIV gamers are obligated to play solely eight 54-hole occasions in 2022 with plans to increase the schedule in ’23 and past. “What, Phil wouldn’t have gone for 100 and Dustin [Johnson] for 70? Then what does that let you know proper there?”

    The explanations gamers have cited for signing with LIV additionally ring hole to {Couples}. Many gamers have mentioned the lighter schedule is a draw; some have admitted the life-changing payday was too tempting to withstand; others have mentioned they’re merely attempting to assist “develop the sport.”  

    {Couples} and Mickelson on the 2016 Masters.

    getty photos

    “They’re all saying they need to change golf, they’re doing it for the higher of golf,” {Couples} mentioned. “Nobody has mentioned, ‘Hey, after I look again 50 years from now … we’ll have made this tour [what it is].’ Nobody has mentioned that. You realize why? As a result of they’re not going to be round in three years.”

    For his half, Mickelson has mentioned that he’s dedicated to LIV for a minimum of two years. At that time, he’ll be practically 54 and presumably nonetheless a giant attraction. If his largely constructive reception on the U.S. Open final month was any indication, Mickelson remains to be in golf followers’ good graces. Much less clear is whether or not Mickelson’s peer group on Tour feels the identical method.

    {Couples} is 10 years older than Mickelson, however they’ve battled each other in a whole lot of tournaments whereas establishing themselves as two of probably the most beloved gamers of their era. In 2006, they performed collectively within the closing pairing on the Masters; when Mickelson gained his second inexperienced jacket that Sunday, he and {Couples} embraced on the 18th inexperienced. Simply final yr, {Couples} and Mickelson have been vice-captains on Steve Stricker’s successful U.S. Ryder Cup group at Whistling Straits. They’ve had some good instances collectively.


    “I don’t assume I’ll ever to speak to him once more,” {Couples} mentioned. “What for? I’m not in the identical boat as him anymore, and doubtless by no means will play golf with him once more. I’m not saying that to be imply. We’re simply in numerous orbits.”

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