Matt Kuchar expresses regret one year after caddie-tipping controversy in return to Mexico
Matt Kuchar returned to Mexico this week for the 2019 Mayakoba Golf Classic. Last year, he ended a nearly four-year drought with a victory there. But instead of enjoying his reign as the defending champion, Kuchar is fielding questions about the biggest story to come out of the 2018 event: the caddie-tipping controversy.
Kuchar captured his eighth PGA Tour victory at last year’s Mayakoba with a local caddie carrying his bag. It was a joyous moment, that is until it was revealed Kuchar paid the caddie, David “El Tucan” Ortiz, only $5,000 of his nearly $1.3 million winnings (Tour caddies typically take home 10%).
The controversy quickly erupted, with insults and criticisms flying from all corners, including between Kuchar and Ortiz. Eventually, the two men made up, as Ortiz revealed in an interview with GOLF.com, and Kuchar also paid up, sending Ortiz a second payment for $45,000.
At his pre-tournament press conference on Tuesday, Kuchar addressed the issue in his opening statement, expressing regret for his initial actions.
“I know what happened post tournament with David is something I’m not proud of, made some headlines that certainly I’m definitely not proud of, but I’ve done my best to make amends, to make things right with David, to do things right by the community,” Kuchar said. “…I’ve tried to use this opportunity to learn from mistakes, to grow, to try to learn and be better.”
According to the now nine-time Tour champion, the most difficult part of the whole saga was explaining the widely-critical stories about him to his grandmother.
“That was a tough thing on me and my family, but it was really tough when I heard from my grandmother and she’s reading headlines about her grandson. I think I’ve always tried to make her proud. I’ve got kids of my own, you try to set a good example. I’m disappointed in myself. It’s a moment I’m not proud of,” Kuchar told reporters.
But despite his regrets, Kuchar also expressed pride in how he eventually settled the situation and made up with Ortiz.
“I’m proud of being able to make the amends like I have with David and the community, and certainly very excited to get this week started and off to hopefully a good start here,” Kuchar, before later adding, “I think as a whole I’m proud of the life I’ve led, I think I’ve done a lot of good, but you look back at certain instances, I’ve got some I’m not proud of. I’m proud of the way I’ve tried to make them right.”
In the end, the veteran pro used the controversy as an opportunity to learn and become a better person and role model for his kids.
“You do your best as a father to teach kids lessons, and there’s no better thing than to show them — taking the lead and showing them the right steps to take. When you have moments you’re not proud of, you make amends for them, you do your best to make it right and try to keep moving forward and staying positive.”
Kuchar begins his title defense at the Mayakoba on Thursday at 7:50 a.m. ET.
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