LOS ANGELES — Matt Kuchar, who has earned larger than $45 million as a expert golfer, went to Mexico last fall in search of his first victory in 4 years — and a native caddie who may help him get it.
Kuchar found every. But that fully happy ending has shortly dissolved into a scandal that casts Kuchar, 40, as an unpleasant American and a notably shameless elitist in a country-club sport.
Kuchar has been accused of fleecing his caddie in Mexico, David Giral Ortiz, by paying him a tiny fraction of what the job typically yields when the boss wins $1.296 million, as Kuchar did on the Mayakoba Classic in Playa del Carmen.
In a typical PGA Tour affiliation, a caddie will get a flat price of $1,500 for the match, which helps cowl payments, and a bonus worth 10 p.c of the golfer’s winnings.
Ortiz instructed Golf.com the 2 had agreed on $3,000 plus an unspecified amount of his winnings, whereas Kuchar said he had promised Ortiz $1,000 for a missed decrease, $2,000 for a made decrease, $3,000 for a top-20 finish and $4,000 for a top-10 finish, with no specs for a win.
“The extra $1,000 was, ‘Thank you — it was a great week,’” Kuchar instructed Golf.com. “Those were the terms. 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.’”
He and Ortiz had in no way labored collectively sooner than, nonetheless Kuchar, who added the match to his schedule on a whim, wished a substitute for his frequent caddie from the United States.
Questions about their affiliation rapidly surfaced on social media, and indignation began establishing in direction of Kuchar, who has prolonged been considered one in every of many further affable avid gamers on tour.
At the most recent Phoenix Open, followers on the typically raucous 16th hole chanted “Pay your caddie” when it was Kuchar’s flip to hit.
A few avid gamers, like Tom Gillis, who competes on the PGA Tour Champions, have taken Kuchar to job on Twitter. “What would Jack or Arnie done in this situation???” Gillis wrote, referring to 2 of the game’s greats, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. “Seized the opportunity to change a man’s life.”
Despite Kuchar’s congenial recognition, his buddies who’re having fun with with him this week at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, website of the Genesis Open, have largely chosen to steer clear of the issue or, when given the veil of anonymity, have said his parsimony does not signify almost all of expert golfers.
Marc Graubart, a Houston resident who steadily employs Ortiz all through golf holidays in Mexico, said he occurred to be with Ortiz in Mexico last month when questions on his compensation had already surfaced. They observed Kuchar on television all through a match in Hawaii, telling reporters that he had paid Ortiz larger than $3,000 for his suppliers and fewer than 10 p.c of his entire earnings.
Graubart said on Thursday, in a telephone interview, that he had quizzed Ortiz in regards to the particulars of his unwritten settlement with Kuchar. Then, Graubart said, he outlined the on a regular basis pay scale to Ortiz, who appeared unaware that he might need earned additional cash.
Graubart said he and a buddy helped Ortiz write emails to Kuchar’s agent, Mark Steinberg, requesting further compensation. In a Jan. 23 email correspondence, which The New York Times obtained, Ortiz wrote that he had requested Kuchar for a share of his first-place study if he had been to win. The existence of the emails was first reported by Golf.com.
“Matt said ‘sure’ with a smile,” Ortiz wrote in the e-mail, “not believing that he would actually win the tournament.”
A few days later, Graubart said, Ortiz obtained a proposal of $20,000 from a match director who gave the look to be showing on behalf of Kuchar’s agent. Graubart said Ortiz had requested $50,000, and the caddie wrote an email correspondence asking if he may deal straight with Steinberg, who replied: “I am out of the country. What Matt has offered is fair.”
Some golf followers clearly disagree. A GoFundMe account has been organize on Ortiz’s behalf, with the target of elevating the $50,000 he has been unable to collect from Kuchar. Late Thursday evening time, the complete was $2,226.