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Controversy Rages in Golf World over PGA Tour Winner's 'Unfair' Payment to Caddie

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A controversy broke out this week over compensation for the man who caddied for Matt Kuchar during his win last November at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

The caddie, David “El Tucan” Ortiz, said he did not receive the bonus he says he should have gotten for caddying for the tournament winner.

Ortiz, who was filling in for Kuchar’s regular caddie at this event, received $5,000 under an agreement between the two, Kuchar said this week.

“It’s kind of too bad that it’s turned into a story. I really didn’t think it was a story because we had an arrangement when I started,” Kuchar told GolfChannel.com.

“I’ve done enough tournaments and had enough weekly caddies, and I’m very clear about what the payment will be. And we had an arrangement Tuesday that David was OK with, and I thought Sunday he was very much OK with it.”

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Kuchar scored his first win in four years at Mayakoba, taking home $1.296 million for his efforts.

“I ended up paying him $5,000 and I thought that was more than what we agreed upon,” Kuchar said in an interview with Golf Channel. “I kind of think, if he had the chance to do it over again, same exact deal, that he’d say yes again.”

Was this caddie treated fairly?

Ortiz told Golf.com that he thought he was getting $3,000 for the tournament and the $2,000 was a down payment on the bonus he would receive for caddying for the winning golfer.

But that’s not how Kuchar understood the arrangement.

“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, according to Golf Channel. “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.”

As Michael Bamberger at Golf.com explained in his story, “A $3,000 weekly payment for a fill-in local caddie would widely be considered generous pay by Tour standards. The sticking point is the size of the bonus. A Tour caddie typically receives 5 percent of a player’s winnings, a higher percentage for a top-10 finish and 10 percent for a win. These arrangements are usually handshake deals.”

Ortiz told Gold that he did not expect to be paid what a winning Tour caddie would have made, which is 10 percent. But he said he believed his work was worth $50,000, according to Golf.

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“I am a humble man, who takes care of his family, and works hard. 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 wrote in an email to Mark Steinberg, Kuchar’s agent, Golf.com reported.

He was reportedly offered another $15,000 after the tournament, but Ortiz declined it.

“No thank you. They can keep their money,” Ortiz told Golf’s Bamberger when asked about it.

However, Bamberger reported that Kuchar’s agent, Mark Steinberg, called reports about what Kuchar offered “wildly inaccurate.” However, the email said it would be “inappropriate” to discuss figures.

The controversy reportedly drew interest after former PGA Tour Player Tom Gillis put out a cryptic tweet in January.

As far as Kuchar is concerned, he’d like to move on.

“It’s done. Listen, I feel like I was fair and good,” Kuchar told Golf Channel. “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,” Kuchar added.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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