Golf’s strange days: Kuchar’s caddy fee, Sergio’s apology and more rain
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — And haven’t these been a few strange days of golf?
The revelation of Matt Kuchar’s perhaps low payment to a caddy after winning a tournament. The apology by Sergio Garcia for wreaking havoc on a course during a tournament in Saudi Arabia. The unprecedented hail that fell Sunday during the AT&T at Pebble Beach.
And then Thursday the storm that hit an hour into the first round of the Genesis Open at Riviera, forcing a delay that lasted seven hours and setting up a situation in which PGA Tour officials decided to “reset” the scores — meaning “hand me the eraser, Martha.”
The last time that happened was six years ago, at the 2013 Dell Technologies championship outside Boston.
Twenty-three players had completed at least one hole on Thursday at Riviera. Tour officials said the course was such a waterlogged mess it would only be fair for everyone to start equal.
That is, if everyone could start, and because another squall hit just before 5 p.m., there wasn’t a chance. Tiger Woods, originally listed at 12:22 p.m. with Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, never got to the tee. Neither did the group ahead of them, which included Kuchar.
Matt and another Genesis entrant, Garcia, have received considerable attention for something other than pars and birdies.
Kuchar in November won his first tournament in four years, the Mayakoba Classic near Cancun, Mexico, earning himself $1.29 million. All well and good?
Not exactly. Kuchar didn’t have his usual Tour caddy and made arrangements to hire a local, David “El Tucan” Ortiz at a pre-set fee of $5,000. Except the unwritten rule is that a Tour professional pays his caddy up to 10 percent of a champion’s purse, in this case more than $100,000.
“It’s kind of too bad that it’s turned into a story,” Kuchar told GolfChannel.com’s Will Gray. “I really didn’t think it was a story because we had an arrangement when I started. 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.”
Maybe, but Ortiz, perhaps on the advice of others, asked for an additional $50,000. And instead of getting praise for success, among some Kuchar is getting knocked for being a bit penurious. But at least it’s all a matter of opinion.
As opposed to Garcia’s action. His was a clear mistake, especially for someone who is a Masters champion. Like a vindictive teenager, Garcia intentionally damaged five greens at the Saudi International, wielding an iron like a miner’s pick. It was captured on television.
The Genesis is Garcia’s first event since the incident. He apologized in a statement and to the players in his group. On Wednesday, he apologized on social media and in an interview with Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press.
“My job is to make sure I deal with it the best way possible, and show them that I can grow, that I can move forward and I can be who I am in the right way,” he said. “I want to face my mistakes head on. My job is to go out there and enjoy my game and show everyone that no matter what, I can be the best behaved guy in the classroom. … I just hope I can maintain their respect.
“I feel terrible about it. I’ve been thinking about it for the last week, every day. I’m an emotional player.”
Back-to-back U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka said Garcia was acting like a child.
“You’re 40 years old, so you’ve got to grow up eventually,” Koepka said.
Garcia, chastened, pointed out, “But I don’t agree with the age. He got my age wrong. I’m 39, not 40. So I have a year to improve.”
Riviera has a weekend to improve. More rain is expected Friday, then sunshine. Sung Kang got through 14 holes Thursday, Jordan Spieth 12. Each was 5 under par. Hang on to the umbrellas.