Matt Kuchar apologizes, agrees to pay Mayakoba Classic caddie 'El Tucan' full amount requested
Finally (?) this saga has come to a close
I'm not sure this entire incident could have been handled any more poorly than it was, but Matt Kuchar released a statement on Friday indicating that he would pay his fill-in caddie David "El Tucan" Ortiz $50,000 for his work during the Mayakoba Golf Classic last fall.
Kuchar had come under severe scrutiny for paying Ortiz just $5,000 on a $1.3 million winning payout, and as recently as Wednesday he hadn't seemed at all contrite about the entire ordeal.
"So I certainly don't lose sleep over this," Kuchar told Will Gray of Golf Channel earlier this week. "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."
The story goes that Kuchar had agreed to pay Ortiz $1,000 for a missed cut, $2,000 for a made cut, $3,000 for a top 20 and $4,000 for a top 10. The extra $1,000 was a bonus. But Ortiz did not seemed pleased with the $5,000 payment as he recently emailed Kuchar's agent Mark Steinberg for more cash, as documented by Golf.com. Kuchar apparently offered him an extra $15,000 at some point, which Ortiz refused. Steinberg indicated to Ortiz that what was offered was "fair" and no more would be offered.
"I am a humble man, who takes care of his family, and works hard," Ortiz wrote. "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."
This email was apparently formulated by Ortiz and a buddy and sometimes-employer -- Marc Graubart -- who helped Ortiz understand the player-caddie arrangement on the PGA Tour, according to the New York Times. Regular caddies often get 10 percent of a player's earnings if he wins the tournament (which would have been $130,000).
The request worked (eventually) as Kuchar ceded to public pressure on Friday (oh, and also did the right thing). Here's what Kuchar said in the statement.
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.
... 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.
A pause. According to Golf.com, that amount is $50,000.
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 John Deere Classic was scheduled for July 9-12
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