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PGA Golf

Matt Kuchar appreciative of ‘nice’ tourney reception amid caddie controversy

Matt Kuchar had every reason to be nervous as he approached the tee box at Hole No. 10 to open his first round of the WGC-Mexico Championship. It turns out that either fans in Mexico City were not aware Kuchar is ensnared in a caddie controversy that blew up a few weeks ago or simply did not care.

Kuchar, instead of being greeted by hecklers, was warmly received by the spectators.

“It was nice. The fans were great,” Kuchar said after posting a a 5-under 66, good for a third-place tie heading into Friday’s second round, per the Golf Channel. “I had so many fans come up and say glad to see me and really good luck this week, and they were cheering for me.”

Kuchar has been taking a public beating of late after word got out that he paid a substitute caddie only $5,000 for being on his bag at a recent tournament he won.

The scandal started after David Giral Ortiz, a local caddie subbing for Kuchar’s regular caddie, John Wood, said the PGA Tour star only paid him $5,000 for his work at November’s Mayakoba Classic in Mexico despite taking home a $1.296 million prize.

While Kuchar insisted he arranged a pay scale with Ortiz based upon how he finished the tournament, the 40-year-old golfer known for his Mr. Nice Guy reputation has been labeled as the “biggest phony” in golf by a former PGA Tour caddie in the wake of the controversy. Further, Kuchar arguably only made things worse when defending himself by stating, “Making $5,000 is a great week.”

Things seem to have calmed down somewhat over the past week, and Kuchar clearly appreciated the support of the spectators on Thursday.

“Last week was hard. It was actually great coming here, having so much support from the local crowd,” Kuchar said. “I had so many guys in the practice rounds come up and say, congratulations on the win at Mayakoba, I hope you win again here in Mexico City. It was nice to have fans still supporting me.”