What was initially billed as a feel-good story continues to transform into one of golf’s more curious tales.
In the fall, Matt Kuchar won for the first time in four years with David “El Tucan” Ortiz on the bag, a local caddie at Mayakoba who served as a fill-in loop. “He was definitely my lucky charm,” Kuchar said. “He brought me good luck and certainly some extra crowd support and did a great job as well. He did just what I was hoping for and looking for.” The win was expected to bring financial windfall to Ortiz; caddies usually earn 10 percent of a player’s earning for a victory. In this case, $130,000 for Ortiz, a man who worked at the Mayakoba resort, often for $100 a day.
Unfortunately, that has not come to pass. During the Sony Open, a tournament in which Kuchar ultimately won, former PGA Tour player Tom Gillis called out Kuchar for stiffing El Tucan, giving the impression that Kuchar paid Ortiz only $5,000 for his efforts. A figure that Kuchar tried to down play in Hawaii, leading to a roasting on Kuchar’s behalf.
Earlier this week, Ortiz gave his side of the story to Golf.com, telling Michael Bamberger he felt “taken advantage of” by Kuchar, and had reached out to Kuchar’s agent to seek his proper due. Kuchar has now given his response, speaking to the Golf Channel about the incident.
“It’s kind of too bad that it’s turned into a story. I really didn’t think it was a story because we had an arrangement when I started,” Kuchar told the Golf Channel’s Will Gray. “I’ve done enough tournaments and had enough weekly caddies, and I’m very clear about what the payment will be. And we had an arrangement Tuesday that David was OK with, and I thought Sunday he was very much OK with it.
“I kind of feel like unfortunately some other people have got it in his head that he’s deserving something different than what we agreed upon. And it’s just too bad that it’s turned into a story, because it doesn’t need to be. We had a great week.”
In his respective, Kuchar believes the matter is closed.
“It’s done. Listen, I feel like I was fair and good,” Kuchar told Gray. “You can’t make everybody happy. You’re not going to buy people’s ability to be OK 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.”
Kuchar also talked to Golf.com, repeating that what he paid Ortiz was more than enough.
“For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really big week,” Kuchar said.
And regarding a now-growing reputation, fueled by others sharing their interactions with Kuchar on social media, the four-time Ryder Cupper was adamant he’s far from cheap.
“I think if you ask locker room attendants, they’ll tell you that they’re happy to see me,” Kuchar said. “I’m no Phil Mickelson, but these guys are like, ‘Matt’s coming our way.'”
Kuchar, who is currently first in the FedEx Cup standings, tees off at the Genesis Open at 3:11 p.m. local time on Thursday with Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm.