Matt Kuchar is 2 shots behind Dustin Johnson a week after caddie debacle

matt kuchar Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kuchar is 2 shots behind Dustin Johnson a week after caddie debacle

PGA Tour

Matt Kuchar is 2 shots behind Dustin Johnson a week after caddie debacle

By

MEXICO CITY – Matt Kuchar’s doing his best to change the narrative.

With four birdies to begin his second round Friday, Kuchar came home with a 4-under-par 67 that left him two shots out of the lead set by Dustin Johnson in the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec.

“I just want to keep playing consistent golf,” Kuchar said. “I’m pleased with the state of my game at the moment.”

It’s a much better place for Kuchar to be than where he was last week in the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club. He was in the middle of a caddie scandal that threatened his reputation, which up until then was spotless.

Instead of talking about golf, Kuchar, long a fan favorite, had to address his payment to David ‘El Tucan’ Ortiz, who was a fill-in caddie for Kuchar when he won the Mayakoba Golf Classic and its $1.3 million first prize last year.

Kuchar originally paid Ortiz $5,000 for his week’s work – a deal the two agreed upon. But when news broke of the sum – which accounted for less than 0.4 percent of Kuchar’s winnings, far below the standard 10 percent ($130,000) regular Tour caddies receive when their boss wins – Kuchar came under intense criticism.

At first, Kuchar defended his payment, which led to more criticism that he was out of touch, cheap and insensitive. Then he doubled down, and as some said on social media, he kept putting his own feet in his mouth. Fans at Riviera hurled biting remarks at Kuchar throughout his four rounds.

Upon reflection – he said he cringed when he read the words of his defense – Kuchar had a change of heart.

“Listen, I was stubborn, hard-headed,” Kuchar said last week. “In my mind, I had it as ‘a deal is a deal.’ But after I won the tournament, a deal wasn’t a 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.

“I need to make it right. It’s as simple as that.”

Kuchar sent an additional $45,000 to Ortiz and made a charitable contribution to the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

In his first two rounds in the Mexico Championship, Kuchar hasn’t heard one insult from anyone in the gallery. The familiar “Kooch,” shouts were loud and clear. After the second round, Kuchar gladly spoke to the four birdies he made to start the round, his fondness for the tree-lined golf course, his success in driving the ball well.

What he really didn’t want to do is rehash last week.

“I don’t know if I would say that,” Kuchar responded when asked if playing well this week was helping him put last week behind him. “I like to play well every week kind of regardless, but it is nice. It is nice to have a good showing, it is nice to kind of be back in the hunt again.

“Listen, golf is so much more fun when you have a chance to win, and it’s been a lot of fun this week just playing some good golf. Having a chance with 36 holes to play is a good place to be.”

Latest

More Golfweek
Home