Matt Kuchar received more attention for underpaying a fill-in caddie a year ago at the Mayakoba Classic than he did for winning the tournament.
Now, a year later and back at the PGA Tour event near Cancun, Mexico, Kuchar, 41, again apologized on Tuesday and noted that he even heard from his grandmother in the aftermath of the controversy.
"That was a tough thing on me and my family, but it was really tough when I heard from my grandmother and she's reading headlines about her grandson," said Kuchar, who will have his regular caddie, John Wood, on the bag this week. "I think I've always tried to make her proud. I've got kids of my own, you try to set a good example.
"I'm disappointed in myself. It's a moment I'm not proud of, but it's one of those things you do your best as a father to teach kids lessons, and there's no better thing than to show them, you do your best to make it right and try to keep moving forward and stay positive."
Kuchar endured heavy criticism after it was learned that he paid his local caddie, David Giral Ortiz, just $5,000 when he earned nearly $1.3 million for his victory. He has exceeded $50 million in career earnings, with nine PGA Tour victories.
Kuchar and Ortiz struck a deal in which the caddie would be paid $1,000 if the golfer missed the cut, $2,000 for making the cut, $3,000 for a top-20 finish and $4,000 for a top-10. There was no provision for a victory, and afterward, Kuchar paid Ortiz $5,000 in cash.
For the victory, Kuchar won $1,296,000. A regular, full-time caddie with a standard deal would expect to be paid 10 percent, or $129,000. Most are in agreement that Ortiz did not deserve that much, as he does not travel the circuit full time. Still, even the $50,000 that Kuchar eventually paid Ortiz was less than 5 percent of the winning total; most caddies are paid a minimum of 5 percent of their players' earnings per week.
As Kuchar was on his way to another victory in January at the Sony Open, word began to circulate that Ortiz was unhappy with the payment. Social media started to run with it, and Ortiz said he had been offered an extra $15,000 but turned it down, believing he was entitled to a total of $50,000.
Kuchar initially stuck to his "deal is a deal" mantra, worsening an already escalating situation. Kuchar's agent, Mark Steinberg, and others sought to work a deal with Ortiz, with Kuchar even pledging a donation to the Mayakoba tournament charities.
"I know what happened post-tournament with David is something I'm not proud of," Kuchar said Tuesday. "Made some headlines that certainly I'm not proud of, but I've done my best to make amends, to make things right with David, to do things right by the community."
Kuchar won twice early last season but cooled after the spring and has not posted a top-10 finish since a tie for fourth at the RBC Canadian Open in June. He is ranked 22nd in the world and made the U.S. Presidents Cup team that will play against an International team next month.