Matt Kuchar has found success on the PGA Tour again this season — but that success has come with plenty of negative attention.
Kuchar, who grabbed his first Tour win since 2014 at the beginning of the season, had his “nice-guy reputation” questioned after a controversy following his win at the Mayakoba Classic. Kuchar paid his temporary caddie just $5,000 after winning nearly $1.3 million and then later doubled down on his move to do so, saying he didn’t “lose sleep over this.”
Kuchar eventually settled the dispute with his caddie and paid him $50,000. That incident, along with a few other minor rules disputes and a brief scuffle with Sergio Garcia at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, has taken its toll on the 41-year-old.
“I don’t do social media, so that helped to not see much. However, the things my grandmother was hearing and talking to me about was really tough,” Kuchar said this week, via Golf Digest. “I’ve kind of always been that kid who had made my parents and grandparents proud, and to see them hear some of the things said about me was a position I never wanted to put them in, and that was very, very difficult.”
While Kuchar didn’t specifically say what his grandma had heard about, hearing that from her was extremely tough.
“Just the fact that she had called me to say, ‘I can’t believe what they're saying’ was hard, because I had a pretty decent idea from friends telling me, you know, ‘I can’t believe what this guy said,' or ‘This guy really threw you under the bus,’” Kuchar said, via Golf Digest.
Now though, more than eight months after his dispute with Ortiz, Kuchar said he’s grown.
That incident, he said, has taught him a valuable lesson — one more than a tournament win could have.
“I look at that, and that’s an opportunity for me to learn to be more generous across the board,” Kuchar said, via Golf Digest. “You know, whether it’s home with the family, with the kids, with the wife, with the fans, with you name it; there’s just so many opportunities to be more generous, and that’s one of the things you learn. Sometimes the setbacks are hard, but those are the lessons that you tend to learn from and come out better from.
“You don’t learn from victories very often, you learn from your setbacks. And I look at all this as an opportunity to learn to be more generous across the board.”
Kuchar took advice from Phil Mickelson
Despite all the negative attention, Kuchar has still had a fairly successful year on Tour.
He picked up two wins early — at the Mayakoba Golf Classic and the Sony Open in Hawaii — and has eight top-10 finishes, including a second place finish at the RBC Heritage and the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship. He finished in the top-16 in his past three major championship appearances, too, and has missed the cut just once in 18 events this season.
Finding success through the turbulence, Kuchar said, can be credited largely to the help he received from Phil Mickelson along the way.
“He’s been one that says, ‘Listen, this is a tough deal,’” Kuchar said, via Golf Digest. “He said, ‘I’ve been through way worse. It will pass. You keep being the guy you are, and this will go away. Unfortunately it’s a tough situation you’re in, but just keep being the guy you are, and time will heal.’”
Kuchar will attempt to continue that success next week at The Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland — an event he’s finished in the top-10 in his past two appearances.
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