US golfer Matt Kuchar apologised again on Saturday for his “hard-headed” handling of payment to his local caddie at the Mayakoba Classic in November.
Kuchar, pilloried for his $5 000 payment to caddie David Giral Ortiz, had already said in a statement he would be paying Ortiz the $50 000 he requested, also pledging a donation to the Mayakoba Classic’s charities.
After completing his second round at the Genesis Open on Saturday, Kuchar again addressed the affair that has rumbled along for weeks.
“Listen, I was stubborn, hard-headed,” Kuchar said of his initial stance that $5 000 was adequate payment, even though a regular PGA Tour caddie could expect to receive a 10 percent bonus from Kuchar’s winning purse of nearly $1.3 million.
“In my mind I had it as a deal is a deal, but after I won the tournament, a deal wasn’t a deal,” Kuchar said. “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, and I needed to make that right,” Kuchar said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Kuchar’s victory in the PGA Tour event was his first in four years. He entered the tournament at the last minute and his regular caddie, John Wood, was unavailable.
That led Kuchar to hire local caddie Ortiz at a flat rate, which Kuchar supplemented with a bonus to bring the total up to $5 000.
Kuchar shrugged off criticism last month when he was on his way to victory at the Sony Open in Hawaii, but the story gained steam again this week after Ortiz gave an interview to Golf.com in which he said he felt Kuchar had taken advantage of him.
“I missed the boat with this one,” Kuchar admitted. “I think in any situation, if you can just understand where somebody else is coming from it makes the world a whole lot better of a place. I missed that one.”
Kuchar, long used to hearing fond calls of “Kooooch” from fans following his rounds, has heard quite a few less complimentary things from the galleries this week, although he said he hoped fans would judge him “on the long term”.
“I’ve been out here 20 years,” Kuchar said. “I think people know who I am. I always try my best to do my best for the fans. 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 (I) certainly hope that continues.”