By BRIAN WACKER
The US PGA Tour has been more like the Apology Tour this week at the Genesis Open, at least in between an impressive first couple of rounds by leaders Justin Thomas and Adam Scott at a wet and wild Riviera Country Club.
First, it was Sergio Garcia, offering up a mea culpa for his temper tantrums that led to disqualification two weeks ago in Saudi Arabia, followed by a string of social media posts that showed him taking selfies with fans, handing out goodies to kids and making nice with the troops. Then the next best thing that could have happened to him did: Matt Kuchar.
After playing to a crowd that included more than a few hecklers over having paid his fill-in caddie a paltry sum ($US5,000) en route to winning ($US1.3 million) in Mexico last November, not to mention a media and public relations firestorm that was quickly engulfing him, Kuchar issued a statement apologising for the matter and said he’d paid the caddie, David Ortiz, the full amount ($US50,000) that he’d requested.
Finishing his second round on Saturday morning, Los Angeles time, he addressed the issue again, this time fielding questions from reporters and explaining why he had a change of heart after only a few days earlier having maintained the original arrangement was a fair one and that he wasn’t losing any sleep over the situation.
“I was stubborn, hard-headed,” Kuchar said. “In my mind I had it as a deal is a deal, but after I won the tournament, a deal wasn’t a deal. Not a good deal. Any transaction, all parties should come out feeling like they’ve won, and certainly in David’s case he did not feel like he won in that situation and I needed to make that right. It’s as simple as that.”
Kuchar added that he called Ortiz in Mexico on Friday night but that the call went to voicemail and he left a message. The two still haven’t been able to speak.
Next week, Kuchar is scheduled to play at the WGC–Mexico Championship in Mexico City.
“I don’t know if ‘soul searching’ is the right term,” Kuchar said when asked what the past few days have been like. “I think I live my life and try to live my life in pretty simple terms. I find things basic. You treat people the way you want to be treated. You know, that one, and then you put the shoe on the other foot. I think those are like two simple rules that I think I’ve always followed, I think everybody should follow.
“I missed the boat with this one.”