Update: Matt Kuchar relents, apologizes, and will now pay fill-in caddie David Ortiz the full $50,000 he was seeking for his loop work at the Mayakoba Golf Classic last fall.
Additionally, Kuchar announced that he would be making a donation to the charities associated with the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
The statement via Twitter read:
“This week, I made comments that were out of touch and insensitive, making a bad situation worse. They made it seem like I was marginalizing David Ortiz and his financial situation, which was not my intention. I read them again and cringed. That is not who I am and not what I want to represent.
“My entire Tour career, I have tried to show respect and positivity. In this situation, I have not lived up to those values or to the expectations I’ve set for myself. I let myself, my family, my partners and those close to me down, but I also let David down.
“I plan to call David tonight, something that is long overdue, to apologize for the situation he has been put in, and I have made sure he has received the full total that he has requested.
“I never wanted to bring any negativity to the Mayakoba Golf Classic. I feel it is my duty to represent the tournament well, so I am making a donation back to the event, to be distributed to the many philanthropic causes working to positively impact the communities of Playa del Carmen and Cancún.
“For my fans, as well as fans of the game, I want to apologize to you for not representing the values instilled in this incredible sport. Golf is a game where we call penalties on ourselves. I should have done that long ago and not let this situation escalate.”
PGA TOUR’s PR Tweet:
Statement from Matt Kuchar pic.twitter.com/fZWsK8RjzE
— PGA TOUR Communications (@PGATOURComms) February 15, 2019
Original Post (2/14/19)
Matt Kuchar came under fire late last year after it was learned he tipped his fill-in caddie, David “El Tucan” Ortiz, anywhere from $3-$5,000 after winning nearly $1.3 million at the Mayakoba event.
The controversy seemed to die down some, although it was still lingering inside the golf world, and became a bit of story at the Sony Open in Hawaii when Kuchar commented that it’s “a non-story. It wasn’t 10% [$126,000], but wasn’t $3,000.”
But then Kuchar blew it up with a tone-deaf statement on Wednesday ahead of the Genesis Open.
“It’s done. Listen, I feel like I was fair and good,” Kuchar told the Golf Channel on Wednesday at Riviera Country Club.
“You can’t make everybody happy. You’re not going to buy people’s ability to be okay with you, and this seems to be a social media issue more than anything.
“I think it shouldn’t be, knowing that there was a complete, agreed-upon deal that not only did I meet but exceeded.
“So I certainly don’t lose sleep over this. This is something that I’m quite happy with, and I was really happy for him to have a great week and make a good sum of money. Making $5,000 is a great week.”
Yes, $5,000 is a great week’s pay for most anyone, but Kuchar earned $1,260,000 that week, and caddies generally earn 5% of the winnings, and 10% if the player wins. And so Kuchar came off exactly how critics had been framing him – as a pompous, out of touch multi-millionaire.
John Wood is Matt Kuchar’s regular caddie but was unavailable the week of the Mayakoba Golf Classic, and so David Ortiz, a local caddie, filled in and carried Kuchar’s bag in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
According to Kuchar, he and Ortiz agreed to some kind of scaled bonus structure that went from $1,000 (missed-cut) up to $4,000 for a top-10 finish. They never agreed upon what a win would be worth, and so Kuchar awarded him an extra $1,000 for the victory, essentially.
“I ended up paying him $5,000, and I thought that was more than what we agreed upon,” Kuchar continued. “I kind of think, if he had the chance to do it over again, same exact deal, that he’d say yes again.”
According to a golf.com report, Ortiz was not pleased with his pay and contacted Mark Steinberg, Kuchar’s agent.
“I am a humble man, who takes care of his family, and works hard. I am reaching out to you to see if you can facilitate me receiving a fair amount for my help with Matt winning $1,296,000. I am not looking to disparage Matt or give him a bad name. Fair is fair, and I feel like I was taken advantage of by placing my trust in Matt,” wrote Ortiz to Steinberg.
According to the report, Kuchar offered to pay Ortiz an extra $15,000 – totaling $20,000, but the Mexican caddie declined the offer, telling golf.com, “No thank you. They can keep their money.”
Kuchar is 10th on the PGA Tour’s career money list with more than $46 million earned, according to PGATOUR.com.