AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton
- In November, Matt Kuchar won his first tournament in four years, taking home the $1.3 million in prize money.
- He won the tournament with substitute caddie David Ortiz, but only paid him $5,000, rather than the customary 10% that is usually afforded to caddies during a tournament win.
- Kuchar’s reputation has taken a hit from the debacle, and as former PGA caddie Michael Collins explained, it’s clear that he’s in the wrong because no other pros have spoken out to defend him.
- Collins also explains that other players now feel Kuchar needs to up the offer to $50,000 to make things right.
Matt Kuchar has turned one of the feel-good stories of the golfing year into a personal nightmare, all because he decided to short a caddie’s tip.
Back in November, Kuchar won the Mayakoba Golf Classic — his first tournament win in four years — and the $1.3 million prize that came with it.
Carrying Kuchar’s bag that weekend was David Ortiz, a local caddie nicknamed "El Tucan" who stepped in after Kuchar’s regular looper was unavailable to work on short notice.
Since it’s customary for golfers to tip out their caddies with roughly 10% of their earnings during a win, the weekend was thought to have been a $130,000 windfall for Ortiz.
Instead, Kuchar tipped out Ortiz just $5,000 for his work over the weekend — $4,000 they had agree to before the tournament and a $1,000 bonus for the win — earning scorn from the golfing world in the process.
According to Golf.com, Ortiz reached out to Kuchar in January, saying he believed his contribution to the win was worth $50,000 — still far below the customary 10%. When Kuchar’s camp countered with an offer of $15,000, Ortiz told them to keep their money.
Kuchar later defended himself, baffling those following the story by saying, "For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really big week."
PGA TourNow that the golf world knows El Tucan’s side of the story, many have turned on Kuchar, who ranks 10th all-time on the career earnings list with more than $48 million won in his career.
As a former PGA caddie, Michael Collins explained on ESPN, it’s clear Kuchar is in the wrong because no other pros have weighed in on his side of the matter.
"Keith here’s the easiest answer I can give you," Collins said to ESPN’s Keith Olbermann. "If Kuchar was in the right, how many PGA Tour pros are coming out defending what he did? I’ll wait, and so will everyone else."
Collins went on to say that while a proper tip at the time would have earned endless praise for Kuchar, the matter might now be beyond his repair.
"A couple of players told me that if right after the tournament he writes the guy a check for $35,000 — which is still less than 5% of a commission — he would have been seen as a hero," Collins said. "Now most of the players and caddies I talk to have said $50,000 is the number, and one player said, even if he pays $50,000, [Kuchar] is still never going to live it down."
Kuchar was one of the most likable golfers on the tour, with a big smile and impressive strike.
There are few golfers on the planet easier to root for, which only makes the entire scenario more baffling — no anecdote would fit better into the mythos of Kuchar than tipping a beloved local caddie named "El Tucan" a life-changing amount of money after helping him to his first win in years.
Instead, Kuchar’s reputation is still taking hits, and likely will continue until he makes an effort to right his wrong. Next time you hear the cheers of "Kuuuuuuuuuuch" that usually accompany his swings, listen closer — they might be actual boos.
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