The most-talked-about and read stories of 2019 on the SwingU Clubhouse haven’t been about the new Rules of Golf or the damaging of courses or greens by Sergio Garcia or Bryson DeChambeau; it’s been the on-going saga concerning Matt Kuchar and the payment of his temporary fill-in caddie David “El Tucan” Ortiz.
You’ll recall from our previous coverage that the whole mess started in the aftermath of Kuchar’s slump-busting win last fall at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico. With his regular caddie, John Wood, unable to make the trip, Kuchar used a local caddie for the week, and the pair went on to win the title.
Following the conclusion of the event, Kuchar paid what he promised El Tucan at the start of the week, as well as a small bonus, for his work. All in all, Kuchar’s payment totaled $5,000.
What ensued was a referendum on Kuchar’s character, his generosity and the payment of caddies in general. Finally, after more than four months of finger pointing on social media and in the press, the two principle parties were able to meet in person and chat at last month’s WGC-Mexico Championship in Mexico City.
“It was never my intention to embarrass him, but I felt eventually I had to tell the truth.” – David “El Tucan” Ortiz.
— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) March 27, 2019
As told by Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger, Kuchar and Ortiz reconciled their differences over a “40-minute glass of morning orange juice” on February 23. The ordeal resulted in Ortiz having made $50,000 — the original $5,000 in cash that Kuchar paid El Tucan the night of the victory and an additional $45,000 wired to him after the situation blew up.
“Matt said, ‘Hey, David, how are you?’” Ortiz said. “I apologized for the (difficulty) the situation created. I told him it was never my intention to embarrass him, but I felt eventually I had to tell the truth. Matt also offered an apology. He said it was all a misunderstanding. He asked me how my family was. He showed me a picture of his family and a video of a hole-in-one made by one of his sons.”
Asked how he felt when he saw the additional $45,000, which converts to approximately 855,000 Mexican pesos, Ortiz’s translator expressed that he was speechless.
Following their meeting in player dining in which the pair buried the hatchet, Ortiz got one final show of respect from the man whose post he filled the week of Mayakoba, Kuchar’s caddie, John Wood.
“(Wood) saw me and took off his hat and glasses and put them on his chest, as a sign of respect, and as a way of saying, ‘Thank you for what you did for Matt, for helping him to win,’” Ortiz said. “Then I did the same.”