What many in the media was terming “Kucher-gate” has reportedly come to an end. Known to many as the nicest guy on the PGA Tour, Matt Kuchar recently found himself in the headlines under public scrutiny, due to a completely avoidable lapse in judgment.
No one can deny that the last few weeks have not been easy ones for Kuchar or his PR team. The reason being that news surfaced Friday, at the Genesis Open, referencing actions taken the previous November by Kucher. Reports stated that after Kucher won the Mayakoba Classic, he chose to, what some are considering, underpay his fill-in caddy, David Ortiz.
After media outlets got hold of the story, they ran with it, resulting in Kuchar finding himself the object of massive criticism for not only the decision to underpay his caddy but for statements he made after the fact as well.
The whole situation started when Kuchar hired Ortiz as his caddy because Ortiz had local knowledge of the Mayakoba course. There was also the fact that Kuchar’s personal caddy was not able to make it to the event. The two men made an agreement, which they sealed with a gentleman’s handshake, that if Kuchar finished in the top 10, Ortiz would receive $4,000.
Kuchar did, in fact, pay Ortiz $4,000 however, there was also the agreement that Ortiz would receive a $1,000 bonus if Kuchar won. It is not the fact that Kuchar did not pay Ortiz as agreed, the problem is that in the majority of the cases caddies receive 10% of the winnings during the tournaments. Kuchar's winnings totaled $1.3 million, so to say the payment to Ortiz was drastically lower than the going rate is an understatement.
It did not help that Kuchar made a comment that suggested that he felt the $1,000 that Ortiz received was completely “fair.” For many in the media, and the fan base as well, this only served to remind what most professional golfers felt—that the caddies are beneath them and that the golfers think they are privileged and in fact very insensitive.
Kuchar spoke to Golf.com, stating he doesn't really understand where the problem is. He and Ortiz made an agreement, Ortiz was in accord with the terms, and Kuchar feels he upheld his end. However, on Friday, after months of intense criticism, and unable to rely on any support from his fellow golfers, Kuchar decided to change his view of the situation, stating: “This week, I made comments that were out of touch and insensitive, making a bad situation worse. That is not who I am and not what I want to represent."
After all the dust settled, Ortiz ended up seeking a total of $50,000, which was just under 4% of Kuchar’s winnings. Reports indicate that the matter is now closed
So, what’s the verdict—you decide.
Should Kuchar have manned up and paid Ortiz the going rate for caddies, to begin with?