Matt Kuchar, who has been heavily criticized for a reported $5,000 caddie payment after his $1.296 million victory in last fall’s Mayakoba Golf Classic, has apologized and agreed to meet the caddie’s request.
David Ortiz, a club caddie at tournament host El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, will be paid an extra $45,000, bumping his pay for Kuchar's winning week to $50,000, according to a statement that Kuchar issued Friday via the PGA Tour.
Ortiz was paid an agreed-upon $3,000 fee for the week plus a $2,000 bonus after Kuchar won the $7.2 million event. Later, after news of the payment was publicized by former Tour player Tom Gillis on social media, Ortiz asked Kuchar’s agent, Mark Steinberg, for another $45,000, according to a report by Michael Bamberger on Golf.com. Kuchar defended the original payment – regular Tour caddies typically receive a 10-percent share of the winner’s check – contending that he and Ortiz had an agreement at the start of the week. Kuchar’s regular caddie was unable to make the trip.
“I certainly don’t lose sleep over this,” Kuchar told GolfChannel.com on Wednesday. “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.”
As the story became widely known, Steinberg offered an additional $15,000, which Ortiz declined.
The issue has been hotly debated in Morning Read (“Kuchar misses gimme on doing right thing,” Jan. 15); (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Jan. 15). Some hecklers were present in Kuchar’s gallery during the past week’s Genesis Open. Kuchar and his camp apparently heard enough.
Late Friday, Kuchar issued a statement through the Tour:
"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."
Kuchar and the PGA Tour are scheduled to return to Mexico this week for the WGC Mexico Championship in Mexico City.