02/15 17:16 CST Kuchar apologizes, pledges $50,000 to Mayakoba caddie
Kuchar apologizes, pledges $50,000 to Mayakoba caddie
By DOUG FERGUSON
AP Golf Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) --- Matt Kuchar apologized Friday for what he said were
insensitive comments about the caddie he used at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico
last fall and said he would pay the $50,000 the caddie requested.
He also said he would make a donation to the tournament to be distributed to
charities in the Cancun area.
"Golf is a game where we call penalties on ourselves," Kuchar said in a
statement released by the PGA Tour. "I should have done that long ago and not
let this situation escalate."
Kuchar's regular caddie couldn't make the trip to Mexico in November, so he
used David Ortiz from El Camaleon Golf Club. Kuchar won for the first time in
more than four years and earned $1,296,000.
Ortiz received $5,000.
Kuchar defended the payment --- regular PGA Tour caddies typically get 10
percent from the winner --- by saying they had an agreement at the start of the
week. In an interview with golf.com, Kuchar said he did not understand why
there was such a big buzz on social media.
"For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really good week," Kuchar
Ortiz had told the website he didn't expect the full 10 percent as a fulltime
caddie, but that he thought it was worth $50,000. He said he sent three emails
to Kuchar's agent, Mark Steinberg at Excel Sports Management, and was offered
an additional $15,000, which he turned down because he found it unacceptable.
Now he's getting his money after Kuchar spent the last two days defending the
"This week, I made comments that were out of touch and insensitive, making a
bad situation worse," Kuchar said. "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 now what I want to represent."
Kuchar, who opened with a 68 on Friday at the Genesis Open, said he would call
Ortiz after play Friday, which he said was overdue.
"I have made sure he has received the full total that he has requested," Kuchar
The situation first came to light when PGA Tour Champions player Tom Gillis
tweeted in January --- as Kuchar was on his way to another victory in the Sony
Open --- that he paid a local caddie at the Mayakoba Classic only $3,000. Asked
about it in Honolulu, Kuchar said it wasn't $3,000 and it wasn't 10 percent, a
variance of about $125,000.
In the golf.com interview, Kuchar suggest that someone persuaded Ortiz to ask
"I was very clear and very upfront. And he said, 'OK.' He had the ability, with
bonuses, to make up to $4,000," Kuchar told the website.
He said the deal was $1,000 if he missed the cut, $2,000 if he made the cut,
$3,000 if he finished in the top 20 and $4,000 if he was in the top 10. Kuchar
said the extra $1,000 was a token of gratitude for a great week.
"He was in agreement with those terms," Kuchar said. "That's where I struggle.
I don't know what happened. Someone must have said, 'You need much more.'"
The apology and payment is a big step toward ending a saga that Kuchar said had
played out mostly on social media. Even so, it was getting more attention from
players on the range than Sergio Garcia damaging five greens and getting
disqualified in Saudi Arabia.
"I never wanted to bring any negativity to the Mayakoba Golf Classic," Kuchar
said. He did not mention the size of the donation he was making or what
philanthropic causes it would support in Playa del Carmen and Cancun.