PGA Tour pro Matt Kuchar is under fire after a payment dispute with caddie David Giral Ortiz from a tournament went public.
He broke his silence on the issue on Wednesday with Golf Channel.
“It’s kind of too bad that it’s turned into a story, Kuchar told Golf Channel. “I really didn’t think it was a story because we had an arrangement when I started. … We had an arrangement Tuesday that David was OK with, and I thought Sunday he was very much OK with it.”
What the dispute was about
Kuchar won the Mayakoba Golf Classic and the $1.296 million prize that came with it in November. He paid Ortiz, aka El Tucan, $5,000 for his work that week.
Ortiz is not Kuchar’s regular Tour caddie, but a club caddie from Mexico who worked Kuchar’s bag during the tournament in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. John Wood is Kuchar’s regular caddie.
Ortiz was not pleased with his pay for the week and reached out to Kuchar’s agent Mark Steinberg, Golf.com reported on Tuesday.
“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.”
Ortiz declined additional $15K
Kuchar eventually offered Ortiz an additional $15,000, according to the report.
Ortiz declined the offer. He was seeking $50,000, which is the value he placed on his work that week, according to the report.
“No thank you,” he told Golf.com. “They can keep their money.”
How do caddies get paid?
Golf.com notes that $3,000 for a week on a bag for a club caddie like Ortiz would normally be considered a generous offer. But that figure wouldn’t include a payout bonus and win bonus that generally comes with handshake deals.
Verbal agreements between players and Tour caddies come with the understanding that a caddie is due 5 percent of a player’s winnings, a number that can increase to 10 percent in the event of a win.
Ten percent of Kuchar’s victory at Mayakoba would be approximately $130,000.
Kuchar defended his payment and the offer of an additional $15,000, which he confirmed.
Kuchar: People got into Ortiz’s head
“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.”
He told Golf Channel that he and Ortiz, whom he met the week of the tournament, agreed to a bonus structure that would have paid him up to $4,000 for the week. He believed his final figure of $5,000 was generous.
“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.”
Kuchar: ‘I certainly don’t lose sleep over this’
Kuchar said he doesn’t intend to meet Oritz’s request of $50,000.
“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.”
According to Golf.com, Kuchar is 10th on the PGA career earnings list with more than $46 million.