ORLANDO, Fla. – Last week, Ben Crenshaw, the unofficial emcee of the Champions Dinner at the Masters, told Golf Today that next week’s dinner at Augusta National, which will include players from both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, will be “difficult.”
“It’s probably going to be tense in a few moments, I would suppose,” Crenshaw said.
At least one player who will be in that room isn’t anticipating any tension between those past champions who remained on the Tour and those who joined LIV Golf.
“I'm going to be honest, man. It's only awkward in the media,” Bubba Watson said Wednesday at the LIV Golf event in Orlando. “I've talked to people that are going to be there. I'm going to sign up with Jason Day and Cam Young in the Par 3 [Contest]. Some guys have already asked me to play some practice rounds.
“Media is the only one that is pushing it. I have nothing against anybody. If you change jobs, I'm not mad at you.”
The divide between the two sides is not entirely media driven, however. Earlier this month Fred Couples called Mickelson a “nutbag.” Couples, the winner of the 1992 Masters who will attend the Champions Dinner, told the Orange County Register he “still” likes Mickelson but added, “If you’re willing to give Phil Mickelson $200 million at age 53 to shoot 74 and 75, God bless you.”
There are 18 players from LIV Golf who will play the year’s first major, including Watson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel, who are all past champions and will presumably attend the dinner.
Brooks Koepka will also be in next week’s field and said the divide between players from each circuit is not nearly as divisive as some would imagine.
“Down in Jupiter [Florida], we see each other. I was just with Rory [McIlroy] and [Justin Thomas] yesterday, and I think Keegan [Bradley] was there. We see each other quite a bit. I mean, there's a lot of conversations,” Koepka said. “I was talking with Rory for probably about 30 minutes just about the ball and all the other stuff that's going on. No one is angry at anybody from what I've seen.”