Golfer Matt Kuchar Issues An Apology & Pays $45,000 To His Caddie David Ortiz After Shorting Him
PGA Tour golfer Matt Kuchar has issued an apology for stiffing his caddie at the Mayakoba Classic and for his comments on the matter.
The pro-golfer vowed to pay the full amount that the local caddie, David “El Tucan” Ortiz, has requested. He also said he intends on making a charitable contribution to the tournament.
The problems for Kuchar began after he won the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa del Carmen and collected a $1.296 million first-place check. He then paid Ortiz $5,000, less than four-tenths of 1 percent and an exceedingly small amount by professional golf standards.
PGA Tour caddies typically earn between 5 and 10 percent of their player’s winnings, with the rate rising according to the order of finish. That means under normal circumstances, Kuchar’s caddie could have earned $130,000.
Kuchar, 40, initially believed that he had done right by his caddie in awarding him a $1,000 bonus, in addition to the handshake agreement of $4,000 if he finished in the top 10. But fans did not agree.
One shout from a fan at the Genesis Open on Friday quickly became viral.
“Go low Kuch, go low. Just not on the gratuity! -6th tee fan @genesisopen after Matt Kuchar‘s tee shot
— Geoff Shackelford (@GeoffShac) February 15, 2019
Of course, the homemade jersey that memorialized the percentage of the winner’s prize Ortiz received could not go without mention.
— Patrick Crow (@p_crow) February 15, 2019
Criticism came from inside the sport as well.
Tom Gillis, a former PGA Tour pro now on the Champions Tour, was among the first to chime in with a tweet criticizing Kuchar: “What would Jack or Arnie done in this situation??? Seized the opportunity to change a mans life.”
What would Jack or Arnie done in this situation??? Seized the opportunity to change a mans life. https://t.co/3Eg5hBmySf
— Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) February 14, 2019
A GoFundMe page was created to raise the additional $45,000 Ortiz requested for his caddie duties. Gillis chipped in $100.
After receiving backlash and listening to fans publicly ridicule him, the nine-time PGA Tour winner had a change of heart.
He issued a statement on Friday apologizing for what he acknowledged were out of touch and insensitive comments he made about the payment.
Statement from Matt Kuchar pic.twitter.com/fZWsK8RjzE
— PGA TOUR Communications (@PGATOURComms) February 15, 2019
“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,” the statement read.
After a month of wrong turns, Kuchar caved and agreed to pay the caddy the full $50,000 he has recently requested.
Fellow pro Zach Johnson came to Kuchar’s aid on Twitter on Friday after the statement of apology was released.
— Zach Johnson (@ZachJohnsonPGA) February 16, 2019
“After reading the statement attached, there is no doubt in my mind this is the Kuch we all know and love…A high integrity man is one who owns up to their mistakes, learns from them, asks for forgiveness, and takes the necessary steps to change…they are role models. And that is my friend Matt,” wrote Johnson.
Regular caddie John Wood, who was back on the bag when Kuchar won the Sony Open in Hawaii last month, also used his Twitter account to defend Kuchar’s character.
I don’t understand the need to tear down a guy who has spent his career trying to uphold the game and himself to some pretty high standards. Nobody’s perfect. All we can do when a mistake is made is reconsider, apologize and make amends. pic.twitter.com/ZpyoCLUcm7
— John wood (@Johnwould) February 16, 2019
“I don’t understand the need to tear down a guy who has spent his career trying to uphold the game and himself to some pretty high standards. Nobody’s perfect,” Wood shared. “All we can do when a mistake is made is reconsider, apologize and make amends.”
Ultimately, that’s exactly what Kuchar did.
“Listen, I was stubborn, hard-headed,” Kuchar said Saturday after he completed the rain-delayed second round of the Genesis Open. “In my mind, I had it as a deal is a deal, but after I won the tournament, a deal wasn’t a deal. Not a good deal. Any transaction, all parties should come out feeling like they’ve won, and certainly in David’s case, he did not feel like he won in that situation. I needed to make that right.”
The statement comes just a few days before the PGA Tour and Kuchar head back to Mexico for the first World Golf Championship of the year.
After being recently heckled by fans chanting, “Pay your caddie,” Kuchar said he was not concerned about the reception he will receive on Mexican soil.
“I’ve been out here 20 years,” he said. “I think people know who I am. I’ve had an incredible relationship with the fans. Certainly this week had a few guys hollering out, but for the most part, I think people judge me on the long term and know who I really am, and certainly hope that continues.”
Kuchar is 10th on the PGA Tour’s career earnings list with $46,627,590 and he just earned $1.152 million last month for winning the Sony Open.
Our rating for Kuchar’s payment: 0.0038/10.
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