Matt Kuchar speaks one year after Caddie-Gate: 'It's a moment I'm not proud of'

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Matt Kuchar speaks one year after Caddie-Gate: 'It's a moment I'm not proud of'

PGA Tour

Matt Kuchar speaks one year after Caddie-Gate: 'It's a moment I'm not proud of'

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Matt Kuchar concedes he made a mistake last year when he didn’t reward David Giral Ortiz, his fill-in caddie during his victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, with a fitting tip for a job well done.

“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 on Tuesday in his pre-tournament press conference.

Giral Ortiz, who goes by the nickname El Tucan, is a caddie at El Camaleon Golf Course, the host course of the annual PGA Tour event at the seaside resort near Cancun. Their story should have been a joyous celebration, but instead it turned into a public relations fiasco for Kuchar when word broke that he had only paid his caddie $5,000, a fraction of the $1.296 million in prize money he earned for his eighth Tour title. It’s customary for the victor’s caddie to receive 10 percent of the first-place check.

In an interview with the New York Post published Saturday, Ortiz tells Mark Cannizzaro his side of the infamous story.

Kuchar’s actions made national headlines and he became the butt of jokes. Instead of being greeted with his customary calls of “KUUUCH,” he was showered with something that sounded more like boos.

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“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,” Kuchar said. “I think I’ve always tried to make her proud. I’ve got kids of my own, you try to set a good example.”

In February, under a mounting storm of Twitter backlash and a growing number of stories in mainstream publications, Kuchar increased Giral Ortiz’s payment to $50,000. He said he regrets both his actions and statements, including telling Golf.com, “For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really big week.”

“It’s a moment I’m not proud of, but it’s one of those things 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,” he said on Tuesday. “I think I equate it a lot to team sports, you know. You learn a lot in losses, you learn a lot in hard times. Certainly it’s given me an opportunity for growth, for self-betterment.  I try in situations to definitely not make that mistake again but to be better in so many areas, to try to be more charitable, try to be more giving, try to take more opportunities to do the right things and do really good things.

“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.”

Kuchar is scheduled to begin his defense on Thursday off the 10th tee at 7:50 a.m. with Presidents Cup teammate Tony Finau and Mexico’s top-ranked golfer Abraham Ancer.

“Up to this point I’ve had seven chances to defend a title and I’ve yet to be successful in defending it,” Kuchar said. “Had a couple good runs, but it would be a thrill for me to go ahead and defend the title and be champion once again.”

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