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Kuchar defends payment to caddie: ‘Making $5,000 is a great week’


LOS ANGELES – Facing criticism for his payment of a fill-in caddie at this season’s Mayakoba Golf Classic, Matt Kuchar only regrets that a memorable week is now somewhat tarnished.

Kuchar broke a four-year victory drought in November, winning in Mexico with local caddie David “El Tucan” Ortiz on the bag in place of his normal looper, John Wood. Ortiz spoke this week to and explained that, after Kuchar took home a winner’s check for $1.296 million, he received only $5,000 for his services.

Speaking to Wednesday at the Genesis Open, Kuchar confirmed the $5,000 figure as well as the report that he subsequently offered an additional $15,000 which Ortiz refused.

“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 said. “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.”

According to the report, Ortiz traded emails with Kuchar’s agent, Mark Steinberg, in the hopes of receiving a total of $50,000. Normal handshake agreements between players and caddies entitle the caddie to a percentage of the player’s weekly earnings that can often reach 10 percent in the event of a win.

Full-field tee times from the Genesis Open

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“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,” Kuchar said. “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.”

Kuchar explained that he didn’t know Ortiz before they were arranged to meet on Tuesday of the tournament week, and the two men never exchanged contact information. According to Kuchar, they originally agreed to a bonus structure that would have allowed Ortiz to make up to $4,000 for the week.

“I ended up paying him $5,000 and I thought that was more than what we agreed upon,” Kuchar said. “I kind of think, if he had the chance to do it over again, same exact deal, that he’d say yes again.”

When asked if there is anything he’d do differently about the situation or agreement in hindsight given the criticism, Kuchar declined. He also explained that, as it relates to Ortiz’s $50,000 figure, he considers the matter closed.

“It’s done. Listen, I feel like I was fair and good,” he said. “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.”