One year after his controversy with Matt Kuchar, caddie David “El Tucan” Ortiz is back at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
He’s just not with Kuchar this time.
Ortiz is on the bag for Rob Oppenheim this week at the annual PGA Tour stop in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, filling in for his regular caddie, Dean Emerson. Oppenheim was a late addition to the event after Jason Dufner withdrew.
“I needed a caddie,” Oppenheim said, via Golf Digest. “He lives here, was available and aside from everything that has gone on, I was looking for the best opportunity to play well. He knows the course and has had success here.”
Ortiz filled in for Kuchar’s regular caddie at the tournament last year, and the two sides agreed that he would be paid $5,000 for the week. Kuchar ended up winning the event, a $1.3 million payday.
While caddies are generally given 10 percent of a winner’s check, Ortiz did not receive any additional money.
Naturally, when the story broke months later, there was immense backlash. It only grew when Kuchar — who has won nine times on Tour and earned more than $50 million — defended his decision to only pay Ortiz $5,000.
“Listen, I feel like I was fair and good,” Kuchar said in February. “You can’t make everybody happy … So I certainly don’t lose sleep over this. This is something I’m quite happy with, and I was really happy for [Ortiz] to have a great week and make a good sum of money. Making $5,000 is a great week.”
Kuchar eventually apologized and paid Ortiz $50,000.
Oppenheim, who has yet to win on Tour but recorded four top-10 finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour last season, met Ortiz for the first time on Thursday, one day before the delayed start to the four-day tournament.
Ortiz had been trying to find someone to caddie for all week. While others may not have wanted to deal with the controversy from last season, Oppenheim wasn’t bothered.
Given Ortiz’s track record at Mayakoba — he led Alex Cejka to a T9 finish there in 2017 — it was a no-brainer.
“It’s not like he didn’t want to be here,” Oppenheim said, via Golf Digest. “Maybe some guys didn’t want to deal with the [attention] of it.
“I didn’t look at it that way. It was a good fit for me. [What Kuchar did] was last year. I just want to give myself the best chance to play well.”
How much will Oppenheim pay Ortiz this week?
While Oppenheim didn’t say specifically what he will be paying Ortiz this week, he said they agreed on an amount they both thought was fair.
“Whether it’s him, or any caddie, you want to discuss what the expectations are and payments are and get that out in the open before you go to work,” Oppenheim said, via Golf Digest. “But I would have done that with any guy.”
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