Sergio Garcia and Fred Couples offer very different views of the state of professional golf

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Masters champions Sergio Garcia and Fred Couples presented different opinions about the state of professional golf on Tuesday at Augusta National Golf Club.

To Garcia, who has missed the cut in four of the last five years since winning the title in 2017, the game is “in a perfect spot…I think we have the most amount of people playing the game, which is great.”

To Garcia, who defected to LIV Golf and gave up his PGA Tour and DP World Tour membership, the media is to blame for making a story about the fracture in the professional game and the bad blood that exists.

“I mean, you guys love these things. You keep building up these things, and there’s nothing. There’s nothing,” he said. “You guys love to kind of dig and just kind of try to make it sound like we get in the locker room and we’re fighting each other and stuff like that. It’s not like that. At the end of the day, it’s golf. We’re all trying to play the best way we can, and that’s it.”

Garcia’s comments don’t pass the smell test. For starters, he and McIlroy had a very public fallout of their friendship, which has since been ironed out, and Garcia also was reported to have gone on an expletive-laden rant at the 2022 BMW International Open Germany when he was fined and suspended by the European circuit.

Robert MacIntyre, who reportedly witnessed the Garcia’s tantrum tweeted, “Amazing how fast you can lose respect for someone that you’ve looked up to all your life.”

But Garcia did make one point that showed he has at least an ounce of self-awareness: “People have to realize one thing, that the future of the game – we’re not the future of the game. Neither me or Rory, no, we’re not the future. We’re the present of the game, but the future of the game is those kids that are watching us play, that want to get into the game, that want to play, and then maybe become professionals. I think that’s what sometimes people forget.”

Couples, winner of the Masters in 1992, has been unafraid to voice his displeasure with LIV and the players who left the Tour he’s called home for more than 40 years.

“I don’t think I’ll ever understand it. Maybe I’ll go to one and see what it’s really, really like. I know how great they are as players. I get it all, and I get the 54 holes and you drive a cart to your tee and shotgun. That’s easy to pick on. Sometimes I’ve picked on comments that people have made, and I’ve picked on comments that they talk about the Tour, which I’ve said I have now 44 years invested in, and I don’t want anyone picking on a tour that I think is very good,” he said. “Now, everything can get better, but let me tell you, if the LIV Tour is better for golf, I’m missing something there. But again, I’m not here to bash them anymore. I’m going to see them all tonight (at the Champions Dinner)…I love DJ. I love Brooks (who won’t be at the winners-only affair). I don’t know if they even comment on the LIV Tour. They just play golf. So please don’t tell me the LIV Tour is as good as the PGA Tour. I don’t want to hear it.”

If Garcia and Couples could agree on something, it is that the Champions Dinner, hosted by defending champion Jon Rahm, should be conducted free of any tension between the two sides.

“The dinner is pretty simple. He’s going to sit up there. He’s going to serve us all great food and wine and we’re going to have a great time,” Couples said. “Was it uncomfortable last year? I don’t think so. It’s a long table, and I sit near my guys every year, and it’s a pretty fast two hours with not much talking. But Jon Rahm is a tremendous champion of this tournament, and he’s there to have a great night. I don’t think there’s any issues at all with anybody.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek