17 February 2019: Mike McAllister on the PGA TOUR
Fresh off a 1-over 72 to finish his second round Saturday morning at the Genesis Open, Matt Kuchar continued to make amends for his actions toward David Ortiz, his temporary caddie last fall at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
On Friday, Kuchar issued a public apology for statements he called “out of touch and insensitive” regarding Ortiz, and vowed to pay the full amount that Ortiz has requested after Kuchar’s win in Mexico. He also vowed to make a charitable contribution to the tournament.
Kuchar, speaking to the media for the first time since issuing the apology, explained his change of heart after initially saying he would stick to the deal that he and Ortiz agreed to prior to the tournament.
“Listen, I was stubborn, hard-headed,” Kuchar said Saturday. “In my mind, I had it as a deal is a deal, but after I won the tournament, a deal wasn’t a deal. 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. It’s as simple as that.”
Ortiz, a local caddie at Mayakoba, was on the bag for Kuchar after regular caddie John Wood was unavailable that week. It was a feel-good story after Kuchar won to end his 4-1/2 year drought on the PGA TOUR.
But after details became public regarding the financial arrangement between Kuchar and Ortiz, the situation became messy. When Kuchar defended his payment earlier this week, he encountered a backlash that helped him see a different perspective.
Kuchar said he tried to call Ortiz on Friday night but was only able to leave a message.
Asked if he had done some soul-searching the last few days, Kuchar replied: “I don’t know if ‘soul searching’ is the right term. I think I live my life and try to live my life in pretty simple terms. I find things basic. You treat people the way you want to be treated. You know, that one, and then you put the shoe on the other foot. I think those are like two simple rules that I think I’ve always followed. I think everybody should follow.”
“I missed the boat with this one. I did not put the shoe on the other foot. I did not do a good job there, and 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.”
Fellow pro Zach Johnson, on his Twitter account, came to Kuchar’s aid on Friday after the statement of apology was released.
Wrote Johnson: After reading the statement attached, there is no doubt in my mind this is the Kuch we all know and love. He has clearly been humbled, but his true heart and character surfaces. A high integrity man is one who owns up to their mistakes, learns from them, asks for forgiveness, and takes the necessary steps to change … they are role models. And that is my friend Matt.
— Zach Johnson (@ZachJohnsonPGA) February 16, 2019
Wood, who was back on the bag when Kuchar won the Sony Open in Hawaii last month, also used his Twitter account to defend his player’s character.
Matt,his entire family and team have never been anything but generous,inclusive,respectful, and complimentary of me and the job I do for him.I wouldn’t work for someone I didn’t respect, or who didn’t value my opinion. To crucify for one mistake feels wrong. pic.twitter.com/BS1XdDpQdz
— John wood (@Johnwould) February 16, 2019
Kuchar, who is expected to make the cut at Riviera with a 2-under total through 36 holes, said Saturday he hopes his relationship with golf fans will not be permanently damaged.
“I’ve been out here 20 years,” he 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 certainly hope that continues.”