The golfer won $1.296 million at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November

By Helen Murphy
February 15, 2019 02:21 PM
Matt Kuchar
ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty

Professional golfer Matt Kuchar is speaking out after news broke that he paid his caddie only $5,000 after winning $1.296 million at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November 2018.

After the winning the tournament, held in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Kuchar paid his Mexican caddie, David “El Tucan” Giral Ortiz, $5,000. Ortiz had never worked with Kuchar before, and was filling in for the golfer’s regular caddie, according to the New York Times.

Since the tournament, Ortiz has requested that he be paid “a fair amount” for helping Kuchar win.

According to Golf.com, Ortiz sent an email to Mark Steinberg, Kuchar’s agent, on Jan. 24.

“I am a humble man,” the email reportedly began, “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.”

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While speaking to the Golf Channel on Wednesday, Kuchar confirmed that he had paid Ortiz $5,000, also confirming that he had then offered the caddie an additional $15,000, which he said Ortiz had turned down.

“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 the outlet. “I’ve done enough tournaments and had enough weekly caddies, and I’m very clear about what the payment will be.”

“I certainly don’t lose sleep over this,” Kuchar added to the Golf Channel. “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.”

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Kuchar maintains that he and Ortiz had agreed on what was a fair amount at the start of the tournament week.

“I kind of think someone got in his ear,” Kuchar told Golf.com on Wednesday evening. “I was very clear and very upfront on Tuesday [of the tournament week]. And he said, ‘Okay.’ He had the ability, with bonuses, to make up to $4,000.”

“The extra $1,000 was, ‘Thank you — it was a great week.’ Those were the terms,” Kuchar continued. “He was in agreement with those terms. That’s where I struggle. I don’t know what happened. Someone must have said, ‘You need much more.’ “

According to Forbes, caddie payments can range in amount, but “most established players pay around 8% of winnings and 10% for a win to their caddie.” Golf.com shared a similar statistic: “a winning Tour caddie can expect to receive 10 percent of his or her player’s winnings.”

Kuchar’s agent did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
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